When a Workout doesn’t go as Expected

It’s a Monday. I usually do a hard interval workout on Mondays. Yesterday was a day off from running so everything was seemingly set up for a great workout. I had a great night of sleep and there wasn’t any injury or soreness that I was aware of. One problem, my body didn’t agree.

My first 6 miles was a steady warm up run to get my legs ready for some intervals. Today the goal was to run at least six to nine mile repeats at marathon pace. So….it wasn’t even a hard workout compared to other interval days I have done in the past. The weather was fair. Sunny, 40 degrees, and a little bit windy but not too bad. After my first mile repeat I knew that my workout goals were going to have to change. My legs were tired! Even my arms were tired! What in the world?

Now to be fair, I did do an early morning 7 minute ab workout and I did some strength training exercises for my legs. However, I usually do that every week so that was nothing new. Why my legs and arms were that tired I have no clue. My heart rate was much higher than usual and I was working a lot harder than most days just to run a decent pace.

I had a brief moment of disappointment, but I had to quickly make a decision on the fly. I was going to change my workout to three miles of total intervals. My pace would be faster but I just wouldn’t run near as far as I had planned. I find in situations like this it is more a matter of making the best of the quality in my intervals than the quantity that matters. I battled through my intervals and then closed with a six mile cool down run back to my house. Even that run was a major struggle!

Sometimes our bodies will not perform as we would want it to. It happens. It can even happen on race day. I’ve been there before where I ran minutes slower than I had planned and expected. The nice thing about it happening during training is that we have the option to change things on the fly. I didn’t have to run my original plan because my body didn’t need me to. I can follow this day with a day or two of recovery and then go back at it again. Hopefully I’ll be ready. The key in times like this is to listen to your body. There is a reason why it may be tired. Sometimes outside stresses from work, relationships, or life situations can affect how your body feels. Other times your body simply needs a break from those long training cycles or maybe your nutrition is off as well.

If you have a workout that doesn’t go well you’ll have to decide if you power through, stop and make it a recovery day, or just change the length and intensity of the workout. Today I chose to change the length and intensity but I probably could have went with making it a recovery day as well. I knew not to power through because I was feeling awful just after one of my intervals. If you are feeling extremely tired and you are straining from the beginning you probably need to turn the workout into a recovery day or change the workout enough you can get through it without injury. I am glad I didn’t power through because even my last six miles home was one my hardest runs of the year and I wasn’t going fast at all. You’ll know if your body is fine and it’s just a mental thing. In that case, you probably need to power through. If you feel a possible injury coming that is another reasons to make changes immediately. It isn’t worth pulling or straining a muscle. If you are halfway to more than halfway through a workout you can probably power through or just slightly decrease your mileage or pace. This way you get most of your workout done in the way you wanted.

When a workout doesn’t go as expected it’s okay! This happens to everyone and it is more common than you’ll ever think. I probably make adjustments to my workouts at least once a week. Listening to your body is important. No one knows how you feel and what you are going through better than you. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes you have more to give and sometimes you need to do less or even stop what you are doing completely. A workout that doesn’t go as expected isn’t something to panic over or be upset about. Instead, learn from it and make adjustments. For starters, it may help you get out of a rut you’ve been in lately. Sometimes when we do the same things for weeks our body grows tired. Maybe it is time for some change? On the other hand, maybe you had an amazing workout a few days ago and you need more recovery days than usual. Yes, you might need a few days to get your legs back and that’s okay too. I know after a marathon race I usually need four or five days before I can have a descent workout again.

Hang in there! You are going to crush it soon! The one thing you can control is your attitude and effort! My next hard workout could be amazing!

%d bloggers like this: