In training, as in life, the best laid plan will always be just that: a plan.
This is a key lesson I'm learning as I enter Week 5 of my 52-week training plan. Because of a schedule issue, I had to do some re-arranging of workouts this week, leaving me triple booked yesterday. There was that groundbreaking, wonderful one-mile swim early in the morning. But, as I reported, my legs began to feel achy mid-day. Still, I had scheduled a spin class for 5pm and weight lifting at 7:15pm.
As soon as I got to spin class and the instructor led us into the first stand/jump section of the workout, my legs cried out. I did the very best I could for as long as possible, but about 2/3 of the way into the class, I simply couldn't follow everyone else in terms of resistance and standing. So, I did all I could do, which was sprint the entire last third of the class. It was the first time I've ever wondered if I might not be able to finish. But I did finish with a total of 18 miles. And I was proud of myself.
After spin, my body clearly said to me, "I'm done for today. That's enough. I will not perform for you anymore." So...I ditched the weight lifting. And I'm OK with that.
The simple truth is...sometimes our plans don't work the way we hope they will.
Training hours end up getting cut or made up elsewhere.
A job you thought you'd love somehow morphs into something that creates a horrible lump in the pit of your stomach every Sunday night.
A seemingly romance-filled relationship succumbs to the harsh demands of reality and love fades...sometimes even dies completely.
Things happen in life and you question long-held beliefs...you're forced to think about why you believe what you've always said you believed.
These disruptions to the plan are sometimes harmless, sometimes heart wrenching. But the beauty of a well laid out plan is...it's written in pencil. You can erase and you can re-write. And, when you do so, be sure to keep this in mind: if you have to make yourself fit into your plan, it will probably fail. A truly great plan will be designed to fit YOU.
When my legs clearly weren't going to cooperate last night, I listened and gave them a bit of a break...without completely giving up on my goals. Weight lifting was scrapped and my body was thankful for it. This morning, the schedule called for another one hour swim...but I was tired and my body was weary. The moment I got in the water, my arms were feeling yesterday's swim. So, I adjusted.
I mentally erased the plan and re-wrote it. New objective: gentle, easy 30 minute swim. Not trying to break any records...just do what I can do.
Sometimes erasing a part of the plan is as simple as that. Other times, it requires an unparalleled inner strength. There is a beautiful secret to our training, though. The longer you train, the more reserves you build. One day, you realize there is a tough choice...a change to the plan...and you are surprised...because you find inside you a wealth of courage that wasn't there before. That courage leads to action. And that action changes everything.
If you find yourself dreading the morning commute because you just don't want to walk into that office....re-write. Take a step of courage and look for other possibilities, grow your skills, ask friends for leads.
If your marriage was over long ago and no one cares to admit it...re-write. Dare to imagine what you could do if you were given a second chance at life and love.
If you find you're coming up against ideas over and over again that go against the grain of everything you've been taught....re-write. Dive into your sacred texts, think hard and work with your higher power to figure things out...for you, not dependent on what anyone else thinks or believes.
Finally...recognize that sometimes a change in plan will yield results you never expected.
When I set foot in that aquatic center this morning, I was shocked to find it almost empty. For the first time...well, EVER...I had an entire lane to myself for the entire duration of my swim. There were no water aerobics classes near me, no flailing swimmers in other lanes. It was completely quiet. Completely peaceful. I did my usual 850m in 30 mins and decided to call it a day. Because I'd shown up so early, I had a lot of time after my swim, so I treated myself to a post-swim soak in the hot tub.
That hot tub was wonderful...like a reward for every bit of hard work I've put into my training this week. When I sunk into that relaxing water, it was as if every horrible and painful occurrence from this week just fell away and there was relief and peace. At the same time, it afforded me the opportunity to think more deeply about every wonderful and amazing thing that happened to me this week and genuinely thank God for those things.
Sometimes, when we change our plan (as scary as it may be to do so)...it yields unexpected results.
Let's all examine our plan. If you don't have one, it would be a good thing to think about creating one. If you do have one, don't forget to regularly check in with it and make sure it's still working for you, as opposed to you working for it.
See you at the finish line, friends.