A Woman without a Plan
|June 26, 2012||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
If you’ve been hangin’ around these sweaty parts for a day or two, you know that I am pretty much the farthest thing from a Type A person that exists in the world.
I like to joke that I’m Type Z. While it will be a little while before all of the scientific qualities of a Type Z person are fully mapped out, some of the most prevalent characteristics definitely involve a general distaste for color-coded spreadsheets and detailed planning documents and a strong love for spontaneity and chaos.
Too cool for shared google docs.
Most of the time, my inability to plan things out, works out just fine for me, even if the odds are against me.
Like on our recent trip to Duluth for Grandma’s Marathon, when I wondered aloud at 10pm while we were driving to the expo, the night before the marathon: “What time do you think the race starts tomorrow morning?”
And Margaret, who has never touched a race bib in her life, replied, without missing a beat, “7:30 am.”
I think she actually just knew this because she wanted to know the drop dead deadline for the end of liquid carboloading.
And even after the mystery of start time was cleared up, I had no real idea how I was actually supposed to get to the start. I later learned, while leaving the dorms at 5:59 am, that the answer to the question was: on shuttles to the start line, last one departing at 6:00 am on the dot. Luckily, thanks to a special bus reserved for my fellow Type Z slackers, and my ability to find the circle despite some punk student instructing me to “follow the signs” and then point me in the wrong, signless direction, I still made it to the start.
LOOK! Signs to the shuttle! Something that would have been helpful to know about on my way to the start instead of hours later on my way to the post-race band party.
Some people probably would have panicked in a situation like this. But not us Type Z planless fools.
I knew I would end up at the starting line. It may have involved hitchhiking and bartering my stash of honey stinger waffles, but I was confident I’d be there by the time the gun went off.
And while I may have just gotten lucking in Minnesota, there are many times that not having a plan works splendidly in my favor. Like, this past weekend. I entered my first weekend in the District in quite some time with no agenda, other than procuring a dress to impress MC Hammer at the #TotallyTrials party this weekend, a fundraiser for a friend from Middlebury, and maybe a little running (a very little amount of running.) But hour by hour, new and exceedingly fun things kept popping up.
Clearly, I am excited because spontaneity rules. The direction of our evening and the size of our margaritas was a bit more terrifying to my more Type A companion.
In the end, the weekend was a big planless win.
But where it’s been really beneficial for me to Type Z it out, has been with my running and the reintroduction of speed work to my training schedule.
Eugene was hands down, the best race of my life. Running faster than I ever thought possible (like, ever ever ever) is thrilling, but it’s also terrifying. I worked my ass off to train for that race, and most of the pace goals I used for workouts throughout the cycle were just for a sub 3:20. Knowing that I need to drop my training speed SO MUCH to hit my next round of racing goals scares the shit out of me.
Add a two month break from tempo running, track work, hill repeats and anything resembling a speed workout, and I am majorly in need of physically and mentally easing myself back into fast running.
So I’m arming myself with no plan.
That’s right. Take that, shared google docs and 18 week training programs, you are not welcome in my Type Z circles.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve tricked myself into some really fantastic workouts, by leaving my house (or hotel/friend’s apartment/office-thank you crazy travel schedule) with either no plan, or a very loose, manageable plan for a faster workout. Doing this instead of aiming for some “run it or die trying” workout plan, helps get me out the door, and every time I far outperform my goal for the day, which in the early stages of a new training cycle, is better for my running ego than failing to meet some set of new and crazy fast workout expectations.
In Denver, I started to play around with starting slow and finishing fast. My second morning there, I left the hotel, feeling a little defeated by the altitude, but desiring a tougher workout. So, I allowed myself to start slow, and try and get a little and little bit faster as the miles ticked by.
In the end, I nailed a very satisfying 10 mile progression run. Two days later, I went out for the same distance, intending to go easy the entire time, but decided when I reached the halfway point that I wanted to play around with some speed. So I resolved to pick it up and try to negative split. That seemed like a more manageable plan, then saying to myself, “go big or go home. Hit this ridiculously fast pace, or the legs are gonna get it.” But, while I could have been tempted to keep the pace on the slower side, and achieve my negative split workout goal by seconds, I got faster and faster, as I let each drop in my pace fuel my adrenaline for the run. By the end of the back half, I had dropped over a minute per mile off my pace during my second 5 miles.
This morning, I graduated from no plan, to easy plan. I wanted to do some tempo miles on my run, but told myself I could do them by rotating tempo and easy miles. I loosely decided that anything between 3-4 total miles of speed would be acceptable, and any pace under 7 minutes/mile would make me happy.
While these are far from the times and distances I’ll eventually need to hit, having a reachable goal for the tempo run got me excited to head out the door, instead of intimidating me to making lame excuses and backing out of the workout completely (plus, I was still all high on Lauren Fleshman’s ballsy run and Duane Solomon’s emotional finish after the 800 from last night’s track trials.)
Boys, take note: tears of joy following killer running performances are not wimpy at all. They are awesome AND manly.
As with all things in my athletic life, I am usually not going to be satisfied with just meeting the easiest goal I set myself. I struggle to even call anything easily attainable, a “goal.” So, this morning, rather than take myself up on the offer of rotating easy and hard miles, I hit four straight tempo miles at an average of a 6:35 pace, well below the pace standard I set before the run. Each mile that went by, I told myself, “you can drop back if you need to and take a break for the next mile.” But each mile that went by, I wanted more and more to just bang out the four miles and do it in a time that excited me. My fourth and final mile was a 6:30, the fastest split of the day.
Six weeks from now, you’d better believe I will not be regularly allowing myself to set low expectations for a workout. I will be marching out the door, ready to rock longer, faster workouts and relentlessly forcing my mind and body to tough it out and nail them. But as I get back into speed work, I need to an easy and manageable transition to get me back in the game and keep me mentally and physically healthy as I suit back up for this fast racing thing.