Whenever I make a training plan, I know there will be unavoidable changes made in it along the way. But I make the plan anyway, because
- It inspires me
- It gets me off to a good start
- It gives me a solid framework to work with even as I adjust to life
- It helps me get back on track after significant unexpected interruptions
Circumstances arise regularly wherein I have to decide how to use the plan to my best advantage and most enjoyment. Should I let it help me get through by sticking to it, or do I need to let it go for a moment? If I have an obvious injury or overwhelming sickness, it is rather easier to mentally deal with easing up on workout goals, though still initially disappointing. When I have to make a judgement call, it is more of a struggle. I must ask myself things like
- Is the apparent injury significant and likely to be exacerbated with use?
- Or will continued movement keep it loose and help it? (Click here for some thoughts on running through the pain)
- Is the illness such that fresh air from a bike ride or run will actually help clear the lungs?
- Or does my body really need down time and time-consuming naps?
Someone who isn’t training for an event or specific physical goal might roll their eye and shake their heads, wondering why I don’t just “rest and much as I need to.” Really, that is what I am trying to do, but with the understanding that too much rest makes it all unravel. Either I an interesting in my goals or I am not. Unnecessary excuses are not morally wrong, but they might reveal that I am outwardly pursuing something that I am not inwardly committed to. (This is my current training plan for 2015 events)
Still, don’t get the impression that there is a constant tension or worrying. It’s not different from the other decisions in daily life. Should I take time to brush my teeth every day? Do I put out the effort to clean the kitchen, even though it will get dirty right away again? It all takes time and effort. A person has choices to attend to these things, and choose to do it in a frantic way or to ride the river of life with as much grace as possible. Time keeps on flowing.
Part of the challenge is that the river flow is in constant flux. No convergence of variables are exactly the same. Eddies and swirls come and go in unexpected ways. This can be poetic and artistic if observed from the sidelines. It most likely requires some concentration and skill if one is in the river. I can use past experience to help me in my decision making and actions, but I have to respond in the moment to the exact circumstances. I have to do my best to adjust, and be ready to adjust again.
There is also variation in how workout efforts feel and get measured on any given day. Sometimes there is no clear reason why I feel slow one day and peppy another. Some days a relaxed effort is more enjoyable, but if I keep on at that pace for multiple days I feel lethargic. Other times, a spring to my step is encouraging, but if I try to force it other days, I am likely to injure myself or get uselessly exhausted. I have to try to not let how I feel about a workout on a given day either discourage me or lead me to unwise decisions about future training.
In the past month, I have had to take two weeks off of swimming, due to pool water issues. I had to adjust for recovery after an unexpectedly challenging trail run, but then I had an amazing 13.1 run around town one and a half weeks later. However, my run just yesterday was inexplicably slow.
Unfortunately, there is no app that I can plug all these variable into and it will spit out a decision for me. And that is just as well, because it keeps me involved in processing information in ways that only a human really can. The choices are mine, but so are the rewards and pleasure.