Dec 27, 2018
Marathoning has taught me much about life. One of the most important lessons it has taught me is how to handle disappointment, especially when it comes to altered training plans and goals.
What do you do when you've been training for a certain event or distance and something derails you? If you don't have a plan for when that happens, I strongly suggest that you get one. If you haven't been sent on a detour yet, sooner or later you will and you will get through it more easily if you know what to do when it happens up on you.
Detours come in many shapes and sizes, requiring different kinds of attention. I encountered a few detours of my own during the past couple of months, in the form of life circumstances and a small injury.
I have been training for my first trail run that is coming up in a week. Up until about six weeks ago, I was doing fairly well and was on track with my mileage. However, over the last month, my time has been limited, due to the time of year and other obligations. And, then, last week, I stepped on something. I don't know what, but it was enough to keep me from running for about a week and a half. That doesn't sound like much time, but it is time and missed training that can get between the ears.
So what can you do when you are faced with a detour?
1. Step back and gain some perspective. Look at your training as a whole. Be honest and objective. If you have been consistent with your training about 80% of the time, you are probably fine and can afford the rest, provided your injury, illness or other type of detour is minor. If you have not been consistent and your training has lacked, this may be the reason for the detour and may be cause for an evaluation of your goal. If you're not sure, consult a professional who can advise you according to your specific circumstances.
2. Evaluate your goal. Before your detour, were you on track to reach your goal? Is your goal still realistic with your detour considered, or do you need to adjust? It's not the end of the world if your time in reaching your goal is extended. If your detour requires some rest and rehab and you are able to get back out there within a week or so, you are probably fine to stay on track. If it requires more time away from training, it may be worth it to readjust. For example, dropping back in mileage (from full to half marathon, maybe) or selecting another race that is further out and gives you time to get back to your best.
3. Put yourself ahead of your goal. Don't keep pushing through, just to reach your goal. Take care of yourself by paying attention to your body, physically and mentally. If it takes a little longer to achieve your goal, that is okay. Readjust and keep moving.
4. Remember your why. It is easy to get caught up in training for a particular event. However, what is the most important thing? Is it that particular event or the process of getting stronger and healthier? Hopefully, it is the latter. If you jump back in too soon or too fast, you'll probably just end up getting or staying injured. The goal is to recover and continue training injury free so that you can enjoy and finish your race.
This is the process I have been through many times, most recently this week. This training season has not gone as anticipated. I have not trained quite as much and have not been able to get on a trail, as planned. I was able to complete my last marathon in November, so that's good. I've done some long mileage. Since then, my training has not been strong and life has been chaotic. Then, last week, I stepped on something and that put me out for a week and a half, causing me to miss a couple of big training runs.
I have adjusted my expectations, and am not sure what distance I'll go for as I hit that starting line. I may wait to see how the first loop goes and make a decision from there. We will see. What I do know is, I know I won't get my ultra in this time and that's okay. I adjusted that goal a couple of months ago. I'm just not quite ready. I do know that I'm going to do my first trail run and I am looking forward to it - a new adventure! So, although I'm not yet achieving my overall goal, I'm still pushing towards another - challenging myself by doing something new and different.
Great Scorpion Trail, here I come!
If you've been sidetracked by life, illness, injury or some other reason, I encourage you to follow these steps and get back out there! Re-evaluate your plan and your goal. Think about what it was that inspired you in the first place and rediscover your why. Establish a new goal, revamp your plan and just start. Take it one day at a time and do it for you.
It's never too late to start where you are.
Keep on keepin' on, people!