Do You Have A Plan?

a goal without a plan

I did it. I ran the Bluegrass 10,000 along with approx 2500 of my closest friends. Actually, I ran it with several Run Richmond friends, sort of. Next time we organize a spot to gather for a photo. I couldn’t find most of you in the mix of people. It ended up being a pretty good day to run. A little muggy, but the rain held off mostly. The streets had lots of spectators braving the potential rain and that always make a race more fun.

If you read here often you likely know that I have been working to get back to racing fitness. An ankle injury and then a sickness knocked me out for about 2 months and I lost almost all endurance. So this 10K was my first test to see if I was on the right track. Trying to get back on track has been frustrating, to say the least. I am a firm believer that walking some in your runs is OK and that every day a run/walk is better than a walk. Along with that, a walk is better than the TV. Two years ago I ran my first half marathon and didn’t walk. I was past the point of needing to walk in my long runs.

The key word in that last sentence is WAS. I was past that point. I haven’t done a Saturday long run with Run Richmond in months without walking. That is where I was in my training and I was OK with it. Even though I knew that isn’t where I should be. So I have been working to gain the endurance to run this race with no walking. I was less concerned with my time and more with making sure I didn’t walk. Last week I was on Hilton Head Island. On Sunday I set out for a 6-mile run. It was to be my first 6 mile since the ankle problems. Hilton Head is flat so I thought this is the one. No running is definitely in reach. I had gone four of the 5 miles the week before at Run Richmond without walking and this had no hills so it seemed doable.

My running partners decided at mile three to pick up the pace. I kept dropping back, but not enough to keep them from pulling me along faster than I had planned. We ran 2 miles faster than I wanted and by mile 4 I was feeling it bad. I started rationalizing in my mind that I didn’t need to push through because I had other things to do that day. No reason to kill myself on vacation right? I ended up stopping at 5 and walking all the way home. Mile 4-5 had 3 walk breaks I believe.

I was worried my goals for the 10K couldn’t be reached. I decided to give it one more try and went out by myself last Wednesday. I did 6 miles at the pace I intended for the first three miles and then what felt right the last three. The last three got faster each mile. I followed a plan and got stronger as I ran instead of weaker. Finishing that run with no walking answered my questions about the Bluegrass 10K.

So yesterday I got up with a plan in my head. I took off with that plan and I finished ahead of schedule. Remember my goal wasn’t about time, it was about how I ran. The two miles that had hills to climb (not big, but still hills) were slower than the rest. My plan was to take it easy on the hills (they still bother my ankle) and keep steady everywhere else. Outside of the hill miles I had negative splits the entire way. Mile 5-6 was almost sub 8 minutes. I ran with a plan and got stronger instead of weaker.

I can’t say enough how important it is to have a plan and then work the plan. This goes for races, but also training and life in general. If we don’t decide before hand what we want to do and then find a way to make it happen it most likely never will. I understand that there will always be bumps along the road and maybe the plan will take longer than you hoped to come together but have a plan. Without it you can never fully experience the joy of creating a big goal and conquering it.