You know what’s not good for your head? Working on a goal for several months and then not being able to achieve it. You know what’s worse? Not being able to even attempt it.
I’m a patient guy. Not an “I can put up with anything indefinitely” kind of patient, but in a goal-oriented way. I function best when I have something that I am working toward. As long as I feel like I am making progress toward it, I can do it for a long, long time. It doesn’t matter if it’s repetitive, it doesn’t matter if it’s painful, it doesn’t matter if nobody else understands it. If it is moving me closer to achieving the task I’m focused on, I can keep doing it.
The important part of all of that, however, is actually doing the thing at the end. I very rarely get to the end of a road I’ve been on and don’t do the thing, because I choose my goals carefully. I plan. I assess. I put a lot of thought into whether or not achieving the thing is realistic. As such, my track record is pretty good.
So I went a little nuts when I had to miss Monument Valley.
It wasn’t the longest amount of time I’d spent working on a goal, nor even a goal race (I think that honor currently goes to McDowell Mountain Frenzy last year), but I think it was the most intense. And for the most part (2016 Phoenix Marathon and its aftermath aside) one of the most successful stretches of training I think I have done.
It didn’t matter to me that I was weak from the flu, and running 6 miles at a fifteen-minute pace wiped me out for most of a day. That I was still weak and recovering a week later when I turned in one of the slowest half-marathon times (even for trail running) I’ve done in a long time.
What mattered—the only thing that mattered for a while—was that I was supposed to do a 50 mile race and I hadn’t.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how soon I’d be recovered, how long it would take me to feel ready to run that distance again, and whether there was enough cooler-weather time left to fit it in before it got too hot. I came up with plan after plan for ways I could do it.
Considering that I would have been coming at it from more than a month of way-below-training-level activity, they were pretty much all bad ideas.
So instead of going off half-cocked into a long run that would likely have left me injured and put me out of commission for a while, I started looking at the race calendar and began making my plans for the summer. Plans for the fall. I figured out when I’ll need to start my training for the Javelina Jundred 100K, so for possibly the first time in my running life, I’ll actually start a plan on time instead of jumping in late and trying to play catch-up to where I’m supposed to be.
(Seriously, even when I was a brand-new baby runner doing the Couch to 5K program, I started it several weeks too late to finish it in time for my first race.)
I made plans, have some new goals—good ones, the kind I can work toward with confidence—and things have settled down in my head again.
I missed my race. It was frustrating, but it’s in the past now. Time to move forward.