When to Alter Your Workout Plans

When to Alter Your Workout Plans

📅May 20th, 2015, 17:30

If you’ve seen our co-owner/professional runner Renee Metivier Baillie run, you know that it looks effortless as she glides along. It may look easy but hard intensity workouts and competitions are hard for all of us, so we asked Renee to share a story of one of her more memorable workouts. Read on to learn more about her decision to run the Chicago marathon in 2012 and her very challenging workout leading up to it!

“One workout that is especially memorable is my first marathon-specific workout after I decided to run the Chicago Marathon, my first marathon, only six weeks before the race. Though I was fit from the track season, I had a healthy fear of the 26.2 distance and the workout lengths needed to prepare specifically in such a short time period. Needless to say, my first marathon workout had me very nervous. I was jumping in head first, and I had no idea how deep the water went!

I had my first 20 mile run planned this particular Sunday with a workout in the middle: 5 miles at marathon pace, .5 mile recovery, 3 miles at half marathon pace, .5 mile recovery, then 1 mile fast (or whatever I had left). It was the longest run with the longest workout I had ever had on my schedule. Like I said, I was definitely scared!

The temps rose into the 90s, and I knew this was going to make a tough day even tougher. I started off, but about halfway through the 5-mile tempo I started to struggle. I focused on one stretch at a time, not thinking of the final mile or the next stages of the workout. Although I finished the first part successfully, I was exhausted and had to sit on the ground at the end. I started to question how I would run 26 miles at that pace when I struggled to finish just 5 miles at marathon pace. But I got back up and started my recovery jog. My coach was with me, and we quickly realized that finishing the workout we had written would not be smart (or possible) to attempt. Workouts are not meant to take everything out of you…save that for your race or competition! We still wanted to get the faster paces in my legs while I was tired, so we decided to alter the workout so I could still achieve its purpose. The 3-mile tempo and mile repeat were changed to 3 x 1 mile at the same paces.

During each mile, I took one minute at a time. It was about hitting paces while tired…as soon as I could not hold the pace, my workout would be over. I muscled through, lying on the ground after each one. I would get up each time and tell myself, “One more…just one more. And I will be happy, no matter what, just for trying.”

Altering a workout midway through is really difficult. You feel like a quitter cutting it short. You feel weak. But really, I believe it takes more strength and confidence to tweak a workout when it is not going well than it does to force your body through the original plan. Not only do you not achieve the real goal of the workout, you risk injuries, setbacks, and poor performances going forward!

Renee ChicagoI raced the 20k National Championships one week after this workout session. I went to the race happy with my decision to change my workout and my overall fitness, but I was worried that (1) the workout I did could be still in my legs and that (2) I was not ready for longer competitions. This made me run more patiently than I normally race, and I was surprised with how fantastic I felt! I won my second national title, and then went on to debut in the Chicago Marathon in 2:27 just over a month later.

Sometimes you need to alter your training when things start going south or to keep with the true purpose of the workout. I was able to recover in time because I altered the training session to what I could handle successfully, and I learned not to read too much into one workout (unless it’s a good one!).

Always trust your instincts!”