How to adjust for injury or illness

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The question of how to adjust a workout due to injury or illness comes up fairly frequently. There are some easily solved iterations of this problem, for example, if someone has the flu or a stress fracture. The difficulty comes on the days where one knows they are able to physically exert themselves, but aren’t sure if what they can do is what they should do with respect to the overall good of the training segment. The goal is to maximize the fitness gains without making things worse (or preventing them from getting better).

Assuming some kind of running is both possible and unlikely to make things worse, there are still decisions to be made on what type of running should be performed. The Hansons training philosophy, like most training philosophies,  puts a high premium on aerobic development, so this component of the workout is preserved first. The next aspect of the workout to be preserved relates to the purpose of the workout – what the workout is trying to accomplish. If run at the correct intensities, the difference between [3 x Mile @ 7:00 with 400m jog] and a roughly equivalent fartlek such as [3 x 7 minutes “ON”/2 minutes “OFF”] is negligible and the objective of the workout is achieved in either case.

Those who are able to successfully select the best adjustment usually have a high level of running related self-awareness. The more honest and logical one can be when making the decision, the higher the success rate will be. Choosing to go ahead with the full workout when it will inevitably make your injury worse does little for long term development. Conversely, frequently adjusting workouts to a lesser intensity will require the goals of the training segment to also be adjusted. It is not always easy to make the right adjustment, but this is a skill that is often required to achieve increasingly higher levels of fitness.

Below you’ll find the simple list I use to help athletes determine how we should adjust a workout, hopefully it will provide some guidance to others as well.

– Corey

Choose the option closest to the top that is unlikely to make the situation worse:
1. Full workout, just as prescribed
2. Full workout, but translated to its equivalent in effort-based terms
(For example, instead of 10 x 400m with 400m rest, do something like 10 x 2mins ON/3mins OFF)
3. Full scheduled volume for the day, but modified workout
(either slower paces or less hard running volume)
4. Full scheduled volume for the day, no workout just easy mileage
5. Easy run, less volume than prescribed
6. Cross-training + core work
7. Core work
8. Rest

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