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What Should I Do If I Miss A Workout?

What do we do when life gets in the way and we miss a workout or two?

Life gets in the way for everyone from time to time, and missing workouts happens to all of us. Here are nine tips to help you manage your training when a workout is lost.

More: Ask A Coach: Does Everyone Pee On Their Bike?

1. Mindset.

Understand and accept why you are missing your workouts. Life's responsibilities and health complications often force us to miss a day or a few days of training. Remind yourself this is a normal part of life, so maintaining a positive perspective is crucial. Stressing about the situation is not helpful; accept it and move to "Plan B."

2. Avoid worrying about losing fitness.

While you won't gain any fitness while taking time off, missing as many as 10 to 14 days only adds up to losing about 3 to 4 percent. Once you're back on track, it will only take a few days of training to make up for lost ground.

3. Don't try to play catch up.

Squeezing in a week's worth of workouts into a few days will not help your fitness. The stress from too much training over fewer consecutive days will only lead to potential problems.

4. Assess the importance of the missed workouts and adjust accordingly.

Are you missing key workouts or are they of minor importance? Do they need to be made up sometime or can you skip them altogether?

5. Missing training because of illness/injury or other life obligations.

If you're missing workouts because of family or social responsibilities, count this as extra rest and recovery time. If you're missing workouts because of illness or injury, managing your return to training will take more time and adjustments to your training plan.

6. Missing one or two workouts.

Usually you can let this go and move forward. If you're missing a key workout, adjust the following week's workout to decrease the volume and intensity so you can maintain a sensible progression and rate of adaptation. Start back at about 70 to 80 percent, and don't re-start with a hard workout. Give yourself an easy to moderate workout to lead into that key session.

7. Missing one to five days of training.

Make your first one to three days easy, with one day of short intensity to remind your neuromuscular system what it means to train hard. Then resume normal training.

More: Ask A Coach: Are Power Meters Worth It?

8. Missing more than six days of training.

You're starting to lose some fitness, so plan three to four days (up to one to two weeks depending on the length of downtime) of mostly aerobic training, a day of short intensity (such as strides), then one day of moderate efforts at Zone 3 or tempo effort. Then resume normal training.

9. Seek objective advice.

Having an experienced coach guide you through missed workouts provides objective, logical feedback, short- and long-term training plan adjustments and peace of mind throughout your training process.

Keep the faith and be confident that you'll make it to the starting line!

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