I am a list maker and a planner. A habitual rule-follower, most of my life has been spent traveling a straight and narrow path and trying to avoid temptations to stray outside of the lines. While constraining in other contexts, these Type A tendencies have served me particularly well in training. With a well-vetted marathon plan in hand, I plunge ahead with a good deal of confidence that if I check all of the boxes, if I hit all of my runs and paces, then come race day I will be prepared for the task at hand. In week 8 of training, I had every intention of drawing on this compulsive desire (need?) to click off all of the workouts, and to stay entirely on point, to avoid otherwise inevitable vacation detours.
Some (my husband) jealously covet vacation days for the free time to get in extra (ugh!) workouts unencumbered by the restraints of everyday overscheduling. Me? Training while on vacation is like trying to maintain a sugar free diet while trapped inside a candy store. I love to run, but left to my own devices on vacation I know that a 6-mile run easily would turn into a 3-mile jog followed by an early shortcut to plant myself in a chaise lounge by the pool with a good book. Under normal circumstances, this would be an okay break to take. Just shy of two months until my 26.2 in Chicago? Not so much.
Marathon training plan plus OCD tendencies to the rescue.
I checked off every one of the mid-week 5- and 6-milers, and smiled greedily and gratefully when I was “forced” to comply with a pre-scheduled “day off”. When the weekends came, I dutifully laced up for my long runs - past pools, and beach chairs, restaurants, kayaks, and art galleries. As I do, I obediently checked off and logged all of the miles, all of the planned workouts, as prescribed.
Except for one.
On my last long run of vacation – a dreaded 15-mile grind – I decided for once to deviate from the instruction manual to get me to the end.
On this long, island run, in a body-melting 84 degrees with 80% humidity, I:
- Enjoyed the first 6 on a treadmill in the air conditioned comfort of a gym, taking my own sweet time to rehydrate and refuel before resuming my run out on the trail
- Ran the middle miles with my husband and kids, shamelessly stopping to take more than one family selfie
- Stopped at not one, but two bars to have bartenders fill up my water bottle, dawdling long enough to talk about a return visit later for Mai Tai’s instead of H2O
- Paused to flirt with sea turtles swimming along the coast
- Flirted even more with my husband who stuck by my side for the the full 15
And, without guilt or worry: I did not hit my prescribed pace.
It was one of my best runs. Ever.
Week eight, I checked the 15-mile box, as I knew I would, but this time on my own terms. Recognizing that sometimes the runs are meant to strengthen not just my body but, maybe even more importantly, my heart.