Best Laid Plans

Plan A is lovely. Plan A is preferred. Plan A is the best intentions of our best prepared best self. There’s a reason it’s at the top of the list. There’s also a reason why we usually end up on plan B (or C or D…). Life is too messy for Plan A. The A might as well stand for Almost For Sure Not Going To Happen, or Are You Serious Right Now That You Thought This Was Even Possible?

I ran 15 miles today. Make that 15 miles with an asterisk. Instead of completing 15 in one fell swoop like my trusty spreadsheet implies, I actually ran 8, stopped and wanted to die, pulled myself together, ran 2 more, got frustrated, called it, drove to the gym, and ran the last 5 on a treadmill.

15* miles. I got there. Eventually.

Training isn’t just about setting a plan and sticking to it. As much as I love my spreadsheets, I know that the training process can’t be captured on the grid. Training is about keeping your focus on the end goal and making the necessary short term revisions. It’s about listening to your body and being willing to adapt. It’s about putting in the work when you don’t necessarily want to and learning to silence that toxic inner voice.

Too many times I’ve let immediate pride trump common sense. I’ve pushed through minor pain only to result in serious injury. Worse, I’ve committed the other extreme where instead of readjusting when a run starts getting difficult, I quit. Neither of these are healthy or smart or productive, but running and rationality don’t always go hand in hand.

I hit a serious wall 8 miles into today’s training run. Portland’s in the middle of yet another heatwave and the sun felt oppressively bright. The previous week I ran 14 miles on this same trail with no problems, but bodies don’t respond the same way from one day to the next. Today was rough and ugly. I thought about quitting at 8, and again at 10. But I didn’t. I assessed, reassessed, relocated, re-reassessed, and by the time I got to Plan D, I finally got the damn thing done.

My sights are locked firmly on 26.2, and I have a solid plan of how to get there. But every map has options, and my intended path is not the only way. I’ll keep moving forward and continue trying to make myself as strong and healthy as possible. My spreadsheet will help keep me on track, but each day will have its own unexpected challenges. I’ll adapt and adjust, and I’ll get there.

Plan D (or, let’s be honest, E or F if I keep going at this pace…) may not look anything like my original plan, but as long as I cross the finish line, it’s the path I wanted all along.

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