How to Modify Your Training to Fit Your Life

Hiking

As the fewer number of posts from last week likely indicated, it’s been a busy couple of weeks over here at This Runner’s Recipes! Since my last training update, I had a six-hour interview for a job at my alma mater, baked about 11 dozen cupcakes, helped set up for our reception, hosted a rehearsal dinner, married Ryan, enjoyed our reception, and then headed with Ryan on our week-long honeymoon to Turkey Run State Park! The week before the wedding was especially busy with all the last minute details that go into a wedding, and I’m still amazed that I managed to bake and decorate all those cupcakes (huge, huge, huge thank-you to my bridesmaid Kelley who spent several hours helping me with that!)

With all the busyness and excitement during the week before the wedding, it could be easy to let workouts fall from the schedule. I wanted to feel my best for the big day, and I knew that I would not run on the honeymoon, so I did my best to fit in my training runs as scheduled during the days leading up to the wedding.

Running must fit your life, rather than your life fit a training plan. A strong training plan is long enough that it allows you to miss a run or repeat a week when life events take priority. What is important is balance – you want to be able to do well in your training and stay healthy without missing the important things in life.

Married!
We’re married!

There’s no prescribed way to modify your training to fit your life, since each person’s life is (obviously) different. However, here are some tips I find helpful for fitting runs in when I’m busy and for modifying a training plan for big life events (like a wedding!):

  • Schedule your runs for the morning.

I find that running first thing makes me feel more energized and motivated for day with a long to-do list. Running early also gets the workout done before tasks can pile up or you come home from work tired. It’s important, however, to go to bed earlier if you are waking up earlier to run, since sleep is essential especially when you’re stressed.

  • Prioritize your challenging runs.

Recently Ryan and I traveled to St Louis to see my family, and between the heat warning there and everything we had to do (lots of wedding stuff) I knew that Saturday was not the best day for my long run. Instead, I skipped my rest day and did my long run on Friday. If you need to skip a run, skip an easy day, and try to get in your speed work, tempo runs, and long runs – these will keep you in optimal shape for your goal race.

  • Add an extra week to your training plan.

I always like to add a week to my training plan as a sort of insurance. If I miss key workouts, I can repeat them during that week; if not, I can use it as a recovery week. With my current training, I did not complete my long run in the week of the wedding, so I am repeating that whole week, even the runs I already did, during this first week back from the honeymoon.

  • Remember that less miles are better than no miles.

I can be a total type-A when it comes to my training and always aim to run the number of miles called for on my plan. However, some days I just don’t have the time or the energy to crank out seven easy miles. Last Friday, after my long job interview and with a long day of cupcake baking ahead, I only ran five out of the seven miles on my plan. Five miles is still a lot and contributes a lot more to my fitness than if I had just skipped the workout.

  • Find an alternative to running.

I wanted to be able to relax and enjoy our honeymoon, so I purposely scheduled all those days off from running. However, we were still very active – we hiked anywhere from two to four hours each day we were in Turkey Run, and picked the more rugged and challenging trails. Hiking certainly kept up my fitness – I was actually sore for my first run back!

 

Hiking
Feet ready for miles of hiking.

Let’s look at the past two weeks of my training to see specifically how I modified my plan in a way that focused on the big events but also optimized my fitness:

Monday, September 15:
As soon as I left the house, it started rainy, so I turned around and opted for the treadmill. I did not want to get sick the week of our wedding! I ran a total of 8 miles on the treadmill with 4 x 8 minutes at 7.8 mph (~7.40 min/mile pace).

Tuesday, September 16:
Three recovery miles with Ryan. I love running with him during busy weeks – it feels like a mini escape from all the demands of the day and gets us some quality time together before the start of the work day.

Wednesday, September 17:
Tempo run: 7 miles at an average pace of 8.11, with 5 miles at goal half marathon pace. I was not super even in my splits but kept around a 7.48-7.55 pace for my tempo miles.

Thursday, September 18:
I really wanted to get up and run before spending all day sitting for my interview, but I just felt so physically tired. I had a long, long day ahead of me – after the interview one of my bridesmaids was arriving in town and we were starting our wedding cupcake baking – so instead I slept in a bit and then did some recovery yoga from Runner’s World.

Friday, September 19:
Three miles with Ryan and two miles with Charlie for a total of five easy miles in fifty minutes. I was supposed to do seven but I needed to finish baking and decorating cupcakes before the rentals were delivered at our reception venue.

Saturday, September 20:
Wedding day! I knew I wasn’t going to do the 12 mile run that the planned called for. I woke up at 6:45 with the intention of running a few miles, but Ryan and I decided to take Charlie on a long walk since he would be in his crate most of the day.

Sunday through Friday we were at Turkey Run, so we hiked several hilly miles (usually three hours each morning plus a shorter walk in the evening). Rugged hiking is definitely a good workout!

Saturday (Sept 27) I went out for a long run. I planned on 11 miles, but my legs were sore from all the hiking, so I ran 10 miles at an average pace of 9.15.

 

While I didn’t perfectly follow my training plan during these two weeks, I managed to fit in plenty of miles. Life isn’t always about how many miles we cover.

Runner's feet are not made for high heels.
Runner’s feet are not made for high heels.


Also, isn’t Turkey Run beautiful?

Turkey Run State Park
Turkey Run, from Sunset Point

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