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What if you fall off workout wagon?

F

or me, getting exercise is non-negotiable. It is an essential, integral part of my day, like eating breakfast or brushing my teeth. It's just something I do. Every day. And the time I set aside for exercise is written in ink on my calendar, just as any other appointment or meeting I'd schedule.

Unfortunately, no level of dedication or determination can prevent life from sometimes getting in the way of your workouts. For instance, we are currently renovating our basement. This has been a work in progress; a project we've chipped away at bit by bit. Until this week.

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This week, new carpet was scheduled to be installed. Which suddenly thrust painting to the top of the "to do" list. To some degree, the arrival of carpet could be considered an artificial deadline to complete painting. There are always drop cloths, right? But why take a chance? To me it just seemed prudent to paint—especially the messy task of painting the ceiling—rather than risk splattering or spilling onto the new carpet.

So painting suddenly became my laser focus, trumping workouts and pretty much everything else. All day I painted and went to bed exhausted, shoulders and back aching, but not in that good way you get from an intense swim or yoga workout, or a powerful strength training session.

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But a home renovation project is just one example of how your workouts can be derailed; there are an infinite number of things just waiting to disrupt your training sessions—illness, work deadlines and travel, to name a few.

When this happens, it's okay to cut yourself some slack—as long as you're committed to the idea that your deviation is temporary. Once the roadblock is removed, get back on track as soon as possible. If you're on a specific training program, don't try to make up workouts you've missed; simply pick up where you left off and keep moving forward. When you do reestablish your workout routine, guard the time you've blocked to exercise as if it were the last piece of Salazon chocolate on earth. Supposed to swim on Tuesday morning at nine o'clock? Do not schedule a dentist appointment during that time. Planning to run on Thursday after work? That happy hour can wait. Just imagine how much better your beer and nachos will taste after you've logged your scheduled miles.

Creating a regular routine and sticking to it will help you stay focused. During the triathlon off-season, I aim for six workouts per week, one each of swim, bike, run, strength training, yoga, and a walk or hike. Each workout inhabits a specific day and time on my weekly calendar. For those who need extra motivation, registering for a race provides a specific event to work toward, and a variety of training programs are available online to help you reach your goal.

Most importantly, if you fall off the workout wagon, be sure to hop back on as quickly as possible and keep your momentum going.

Sherri Leimkuhler is the Times' fitness writer. Her column appears every other Sunday. Reach her at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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