Adjusting ‘The Plan’: A Training Plan is Etched in Stone, More Like an Outline

When it comes to workouts and training I like plans. I like knowing what I’m going to be doing ahead of time. I feel most productive if I know where I am, know where I want to end up, and have the outline of how I’m going to be getting there.
trail runner
Training plans aren’t etched in stone, I know that, but I like at least an outline, the gist of what’s in store for me tomorrow. But sometimes you CAN’T know and have to just roll with the punches so to speak.

You can’t foresee how you’re going to be in the future, sports science is the field of learning all we can to best predict performance ahead of time and stack the odds in your favor but there are NO SURE THINGS.

Times you just have to cede to not knowing and come up with things on the spot:

* Injury: We all hate them but they come with the game. An injury forces you to reassess your training program and adapt it.

* Coming back from an injury: This is separate because each injury is different and unique to the individual. The body is amazingly resilient at repairing itself…it can take longer or shorter than expected and here is where you just take it on the day by day approach. It’s amazing what a few weeks or even days can make…which can be both uplifting at times and heartbreaking at others. You can’t rush the recovery process but take it day by day…test it out and if things are improving run with the good news. Just don’t rush it.

* Change in volume:Anyone who’s increased their mileage can attest that the effects of fatigue are cumulative. It’s funny how you can feel stronger in the first few weeks but then get a sucker-punch to the face seemingly out of nowhere, “I’ve been running X amount of miles more than I was used to for a month now, why am I suddenly so tired?” The answer is it’s catching up to you. When you increased the workload you should prepare yourself for the extra fatigue and this may mean adjusting your planned hard workouts…either more recovery days between them or adjusting the goal times.

man with pizza

Didn't see that coming...

* Change in variables: A smart tactic is to only change one thing at a time; for example if you up your mileage don’t also up the intensity of your workouts. There are other variable to remember…namely curve balls life throws your way. Stress isn’t just hype and life stress can effect your running…especially if it comes with less sleep.

* The ‘who’s legs are these’ workout: They happen…your body just comes up flat and ugly. It’s the workout where from the first minute you know things are awry, and you might never really know why. Here is where you have to make some decisions: chuck the watch and go off of effort, adapt the workout so that you gain something from it (ie: if you planned milers but are super slow, switch to 200’s and sometimes the shift in muscle groups will allow you to at least benefit from one type of workout), or take the day as an easy run and attempt the workout tomorrow or later in the week.

In running, and in life, we can’t always have the answers or the absolute plan. I hate it as much as the next OCD runner…but remember that it’s okay to have those small margins of unknown. We still usually have an idea of where we eventually want to end up, an outline, we aren’t completely floating in nothingness.
track runner
When we have to adjust, or wait and see what tomorrow holds before we can make a decision, we do our best to let go of the anxiety of ‘not knowing,’ need to loosen up, sleep on it, and go with the flow. 😉

1) Do you like to have a plan with your workouts or at least know what you’re doing the next day?

2) How do you ‘stay loose’ and made modifications as needed when things force you to adapt your plan?
Depending on what it is; with an injury it’s easier because mostly it’s staying positive and doing what you CAN to stay on track.

3) What are times you’ve had to make adjustments to your training plan?
Oh so many…and honestly we all should be adjusting them and they are more like outlines. Have an outline that may be months long, but you recalibrate each week as it goes along.

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12 thoughts on “Adjusting ‘The Plan’: A Training Plan is Etched in Stone, More Like an Outline

  1. another great post 🙂 especially to those of us new to running. I LOVE making a plan, getting a plan, having a plan. I used to be so rigid with all my plans. Now I love having a plan AND having a plan b (and c and d) so life can throw me lemons and lemonade! I like that I know I can always get a workout in no matter what happens with a plan and preparation for the unexpected. Muahahaha go OCD!

    • aww, thanks and i’m glad this was helpful! 🙂 i like ur multi-plan approach and YES OCD people unite…hehe! 😉 hey, so long as it’s controlled and channeled properly i don’t think it can be beat in terms of dedication…lol.

  2. aah love it!! great post, so glad I was part of your inspiration :- haha yes we both know i’ve been dealing with the take it day-by-day approach…I can be hurting really bad when I go to bed and then wake up feeling okay and then by the end of the day I’ve felt good enough to get a normal length workout in…its frustrating, but as long as things are generally moving in the right direction. I do love having a plan though! I used to plan every detail of my workouts for the week, and if something got in the way I’d get mad hahaha – at the moment I’ve sort of stopped planning – I have a plan for the running part and that takes priority, but the extra XT i’m kind of just doing what I can, when I can. It sucks sometimes, but I guess now is not the time to have a plan that I need to “live up to” – now’s not the time to make each workout a challenge to rise to. As long as everything’s moving in the right direction, I’ll get to that level of confidence soon enough!

    • haha…glad u like! ya, and stay strong, girl, i’m going through the same thing. it can be frustrating but we just gotta breathe, then roll with the punches. 😉

  3. I try to get an idea of what I want to do the next day in my workout. Thus far it has just been easy miles to get my endurance back after my 2 month break when I had knee problems.
    Sometimes I think I’m going for a quick, hard run and end up doing a 10 mile easy run. Then sometimes I’ll think I’m going for a long easy run and end up doing a hard fast run.
    Recently this past week I’ve had to readjust my schedule to give myself time off because I’ve been sick to where working out was kinda out of the question. It sucks not working out, but not making myself more sick is better.

  4. Great post! I love to have a plan because if I don’t I just end up running slow miles all the time and really am not getting myself in good shape. If I do get out there and start to feel slow and am struggling when I have a workout planned, I usually end up just turning the watch off. There is a difference between being sore and feeling physically drained. I realize that when I’m feeling like I have nothing in me to complete the workout, I’m probably overworking myself or not providing myself with adequate nutrition. Either way, I need to change something.

    • true words dana! there is an important difference between just being tired and then knowing when it’s a signal u need to make adjustments in other areas: ie-sleep/energy.

  5. I have a completely loosey-goosey plan right now: just do something every day. Or do something *most* days.

    Back when I was doing Couch to 5k, I did love having that plan. It really kept me from falling off the wagon. Perhaps it’s time to develop a new plan…

    • haha…oh loosey-goosey!! ya sometimes having at least a little more organized approach or knowing u have other people to meet can REALLY help u stick to the times u should be getting in those runs. 🙂

  6. I couldn’t have read this post at a better time. In every area of my life I am relaxed except running. When it comes to training I am very Type A. I like to know the entire plan (like you described) and when that plan doesn’t go exact, I get anxious and uncomfortable. This post was a nice reminder to chill out 😉

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting, and glad the post came at the perfect time for you. It’s REALLY easy for all of us runners to lose a little perspective and need a reminder. 🙂

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