Plan of the week: Monday 5th May 2014
Here’s last week’s plan.
Mon – Rest from running
Tues – 6-8k Hills at a 5 to 10 K pace
Weds – 5k at an easy pace
Thurs – 6.5k at a 5k pace
Fri – Rest from running
Sat – 5k at a 5k pace
Sun – 20k – Long Slow Run (LSR)
Let’s review how I did.
“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.’’
The plan fell over. Or I fell over…
I ran 3.5k on Tuesday and then nothing for the rest of the week. Nada. Zip. Naff all. I let stuff get in the way, thinking I could make up for lost time. Last week was a failure. And very disappointing.
But, more importantly, it was very instructive. It gave me a lesson about my planning.
Fail to plan – plan to fail
In my day job, I’m a project manager for a civil engineering contractor. I’m oversimplifying (this blog’s about running, not civil engineering) but the job is to dig holes, put something in them and then fill the hole. Or sometimes I get to play with concrete. Concrete is pretty cool.
Coordinating the whole of the hole digging/putting something in/filling/concrete can be really complicated. If we don’t plan ahead, we stand a very good chance of failing. I’ve seen that so many times in my professional life and also my personal life.
I’m a big fan of a plan.
Someone once said a goal without a plan is just a wish. I can relate to that. Once upon a time I:
- wished I didn’t smoke
- wised I was eating healthier
- wished I could start running
Funnily enough, all of my wishing didn’t get me any nearer the goal of a healthier lifestyle. As we saw previously, it was only when I started making a plan and executing it that I started seeing results.
What turned the wish into concrete reality?
I took action.
This was the key; I broke the overall goal down (e.g. stop smoking) into smaller steps (set quit date, read how to quit, buy patches etc). Sometimes the plan was only in my head, sometimes I wrote it down on a dairy or a short document.
The plan was my instruction manual on how to get to my goal.
And it has worked pretty well for me so far: I have made plans for my life, executed them and have achieved many of my goals.
But not with my running.
That’s the one plan I have failed on. Why? Where am I going wrong?
What I’m currently planning for
On June 1st 2014, I plan to run the Christchurch Marathon. This will be my sixth marathon and the one where I hoped I’d crack the 4hr 30min finishing time. My training plan is one I took from the internet. I have used this for all of my marathons to date
The plan involves running 5 days a week at various distances, using various exercises and leading to a peak distance per week.
And I’ve never – in all of my race training to date – followed it completely. The most I have ever managed to comply this plan was a two week stretch when life was relatively quiet.
I should explain that, in the last few years, I’ve led an unhealthily busy life. Lot of travelling, shifting location every few days, long hours at work. This lack of routine and extended periods of being completely and utterly tired meant I always struggled to keep to the plan.
I always figured that it was my lack of will power. If I got up at 5am, I could squeeze in the 10km I’m supposed to do this week before hitting work till 6pm and then entertaining clients till midnight and getting up at 5am again. Or I will do double mileage on Thursday to make up for lost time.Or any one of a dozen different excuses and justifications not to do the running. Of course, the less running-to-the-plan I did, the more guilty I would feel. This created a feedback loop which meant I just didn’t want to run.
It wasn’t lack of will power.
It was because the less I ran, the more I was drifting away from my goal. This led me to give up. To not Keep on Going because I was letting Perfect be the enemy of The Good Enough.
One of Kogsy’s favourite sayings is Plan – Do – Check – Act. I took this from a safety analysis course but the principle can be applied to any planning endeavour. Let’s say we’re planning on driving on a long road trip.
- Plan – decide what and how you are going to achieve your goal. In our driving analogy, where are we going, how long do we expect to take and how much fuel will we need?
- Do – undertake the steps you have planned i.e. take the specified actions. Start driving the way.
- Check – Is it working? Are you getting nearer your goal? Are we getting closer to our destination? Are we OK for time? Have we enough fuel?
- Act – if, after checking, you are not, take action to correct. Do we need to take another road? Stop for fuel?
I got into a serious funk last week. Stuff was going on with my work and professional life which meant I was distracted from my running plan. This is a short sighted mistake – running – the act of exercise – is what has kept me sane these last few years.
The big problem was my – as I saw it – failure to meet the plan. To not be perfect in following this plan. If I can’t meet the plan, then what’s the point of running? If I can’t follow a simple plan – the same plan I have tried to follow 5 times before to complete a marathon – then what hope do I have of hitting my BMQ goal?
Insanity is going the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.
Having planned, having failed to do I finally realised I hadn’t checked my plan was still relevent.
Driving back from my work team building exercise on Sunday, it hit me. With only four weeks to go to my next marathon, my plan is anyway useless. So why not jettison it and create a new one? One that is going to get me into a ‘good enough’ condition to complete the marathon.
So that’s the new plan: do enough to get around the marathon course. I want to run it completely i.e. not have to take walking breaks to deal with cramps etc.This means I’m not going to worry about my time, but only about building my legs up in the time I have left. So, here’s the new plan for this week:
Plan week commencing Monday 5th May
- Between Tuesday and Thursday, run a 5k, an 8k and a 5k.
- Saturday, go to pilates class and run 5k.
- Sunday, run 15k including a slow hill.
Time is not the consideration but continuous running is. Getting out on my feet and staying on them.
Where that leaves my long term plan
I’ve had a couple of busy weeks which means I’ve not done enough forward planning (either on my running or domestic stuff – I’ve run out of clean clothes!). This weekend, I’m staying home (expect for my running) and I’m going to map out the rest of the few weeks left to me.
Next week, my container of stuff arrives in NZ from the UK. That contains my ‘How to Run a Marathon’ materials which I’ve never really exploited. So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to pick another marathon and target that for a 4hr 30min.
Once I get 4hr 30 min, I then look to get a 4hr marathon. Then a 3:30. Then – my goal – a 3:15 BMQ time. Inch by inch, step by step, my plan is to keep on going slowly to success and to follow my own plan, one that suits my life.
Keep on Going