Automatic Endurance Training
I love December. Sweaters, eggnog, movies, vomit-inducing trainer sessions, ChirstmaHanuKwanzakah... There's nothing better! No matter what holiday you celebrate, there'll probably be travel. Whether you're going somewhere, or boorish aunts and uncles are coming to you, there's a whole workbench full of wrenches just waiting to be thrown into your training schedule. And sometimes, screw it: you have to miss a session. I myself missed a workout in 2014. One missed session isn't going to kill you (probably). What is going to kill you is consistent inconsistency.
It's typically around this time of year that an athlete will come to me and say, "Hey man, I missed the past three days because work has been crazy, and my newborn baby girl comes in two weeks and we've been busy getting ready." To which I reply: "look, it's cool. If you think keeping a steady job and providing for your fledgling family is more important than the local Cross race, that's fine. We're on different pages, but that's fine."
But seriously: life gets in the way. Some days you have to miss, and no coach is going to give you a hard time because you've been locked in the library for the past 72 hours straight during finals week. We get it: Engineering is a bitch. That said, training is like Pandora: you only get so many skips until (to quote my generation's poet laureate) I have to say, "Nah nah nah nah, come on."
Some days are an absolute no-go. What you want to avoid, however, is looking at a trainer workout that's going to take 105 minutes, determining you've only got 74 minutes until you have to leave the house, subsequently wringing your hands and drinking coffee for the next 37 minutes stressing about not getting a complete workout in, determining it'll take 8 minutes to get dressed for the workout, another 7 to shower, another 6 to get dressed for work, and finally concluding there's no possible way you could do any productive work in the remaining 16 minutes, and so you eat a bowl of fruity pebbles and stalk Mila Kunis's instagram instead. This is where it helps to have a stand-in workout.
A stand-in workout is one you can substitute for those days when you just don't have enough time. Only got 30 minutes of total trainer time available? That's plenty to keep the engine running. In the same way you don't want to leave your car sitting in the garage too long between drives, you don't want to develop gaps in your training. Hopping on the trainer for 30 minutes, or blasting a quick run will help keep the legs sharp, and remind your system, "hey, guys. We're still doin' this. Shit's been crazy lately, and we haven't gotten out much, but don't fall asleep on me here." So what do you do in those 30 minutes?
I'm a fan of 30 second work for short-duration workouts because it lets you go hard, and it keeps the rest needed to a minimum, which in turn maximizes the number of efforts you can do in 30 minutes. If you're crunched for time, 3-5 minutes warmup is plenty. Ideally you get a warm-down, but if time is a serious issue, skip it (GASP, BUT WON'T I GET DIPHTHERIA IF I DON'T COOL DOWN!?) No, you won't get Diphtheria if you skip a cool down. Ideally you do it, as it will help you be ready for the next session, but if you don't have time, the cool down can be the first to go. It's better to have sore muscles because you didn't cool down, than it is to have fresh muscles because you haven't worked out in a week. Remember: you're not training for Worlds here. Not everything has to be perfect. Check back tomorrow, and I'll lay out three sessions of 30 minutes that'll keep the pistons firing when racist aunt Ida comes to town.
In the mean time, go pass your finals, paint that crib purple (it's regal, I tell you!) and don't forget to enjoy these last few days of solitude before family ruins everything.