What to Do When You Skip a Workout?


Life gets in the way and fitness plans get derailed. It happens to everyone, even the most dedicated and committed athletes. The question is, “what do you do?” You’re not ready to throw in the towel in reaching your fitness goal; but you feel stress, anxiety and doubt from a few missed workouts. Has all of your hard work training the last several weeks gone to waste just because you missed a week or two of planned workouts? The answer is NO!

Disclaimer: I’m clearly writing this to help you all; I’m not saying I missed a week or so of my training plan due to life getting a little crazy … (wink, wink). All jokes aside, I missed a week and a half of key workouts during my triathlon training program and I needed to know (quickly) what my next move was to get back on track.

I had the chance to catch up with Chicago training and recovery expert Robyn LaLonde; owner of EDGE Athlete Lounge and Nike+ Run Club Coach. She gave me a few hard and fast tips to on how to pick up training where you left off (and basically stop whining).

If your training gets off-track, recognize it and course-correct as quickly as you can with these simple tips:

Start Where You Left Off

No need to reinvent the wheel. Recognize the distance and effort you were at prior to your brief hiatus from training, and start there. Don’t over think your re-entry to training, just get moving as quickly as you can. If your plan calls for eight miles and your body is telling you to stop at six, make sure you stop. Expert tip: don’t increase your distance by more than 10% in any given week. You should slowly and consistently build your mileage and endurance over time to avoid injury. You’re better off dialing back your training plan by a few miles than getting injured.

Target Your Weakness

Robyn asked me specifically what my weaknesses were in my training and I said, “speed/interval workouts and getting in the pool.” She quickly replied, “start there.” Don’t avoid your toughest workouts. Tackle them while listening to your body. If the training plan calls for eight sprint intervals and your body is telling you to stop at six, honor that.

Don’t Make-Up Missed Workouts

If you try and play catch-up with the workouts you missed, you will sabotage your entire training plan. Don’t do it. Simply let those days go and continue on with the program as planned. Trying to work two weeks of training into one week will lead to exhaustion, injury and a very stressed athlete.

Move On

Mentally, let it go. Training for a sporting event or fitness goal is as much mental as it is physical. Stop dwelling on the workouts you missed and shift your focus to maximizing your next workouts. You can’t control the past and the missed workouts, so don’t waste your mental energy thinking about them. Move on.


Robyn doesn’t like to use the word recovery, because it should seamlessly be a part of every workout. However, I recognize that for most of us, recovery is an afterthought to the miles we put in. If you want to avoid injury and reap the full training benefits of your workouts, you need to give your body the tools to recover and grow. With missed workouts, maximizing every session (with proper recovery) moving forward is key.

The moral of the story is to get moving, but mindfully. Listen to your body as you slowly get back to the fitness you were at before your break in training. Remain calm, avoid frustration and get to work. You’ll quickly realize your training efforts might not be sabotaged after all.

Stop by EDGE athlete lounge to chat, train and recover. More to come on aSweatLife from my interview and time spent at EDGE with Coach Robyn.

Endurance Move

About Kelly Molnar

A marketing manager by day, Kelly Magnus has serious passion for keeping active. Kelly believes in making fitness fun by sweating with friends at events like #Sweatworking, or morning run meet-ups. Aside from her day job, she’s an age-group triathlete having completed sprint to half-iron distance races. She’s also a yoga instructor and you can find her teaching strength classes at Studio Three in Chicago. Kelly's hope is that her writing on aSweatLife inspires everyone, no matter their fitness level, to get moving. Kelly is from Wisconsin and attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.