Monday, August 29, 2011

Evolution of a Training Plan, Part Two

When I wrote Part One of this bloggy mini-series, I really only envisioned it having two parts – the discussion of my very first training plan and then a dissection of my current one, sort of a “Then vs. Now” thing.  But as I cringed with embarrassment reminisced about my naïveté in those early years, I realized that there was a critical piece missing in between:  FAILURE.

Yep, I just dropped an ugly F-bomb.  My first few years of running were, in fact, spiced quite heavily with failure, from missing time goals, mojo-draining injuries, and a big fat DNF at my first marathon.  Looking back on it now, I can see that a lot of these problems were related to my training plans (or the lack thereof). 

Case(s) in point:

  • My first half-marathon.  I had the rather lofty goal of going sub-two hours, based on…well, nothing, really.  I hadn’t run that far before and I don’t have any record of using a training plan for that race.  Apparently, I felt that running five days a week with random distances that got progressively longer was going to carry me across the finish line at my then-5K pace. 

First Half 001Fail. 

BTW, I don’t for one second mean to imply that a 2:06 is a fail time-wise!  It was only a fail because I set a goal I couldn’t/didn’t achieve.

  • About a year and a half later, I set the goal to go sub-25 minutes at a 5K.  I printed out a training plan from Runner’s World and followed it about as religiously as I follow any training plan to a “T.”  This was my first introduction to speedwork and it was truly love at first run.  I saw paces that started with a 7 for the first time ever, but standing on the starting line I was still somehow plagued with doubts.

Davis Stampede 009My finish time?  25 minutes on the nose.  I missed my goal by One.  Effing.  Second.   FAIL.

  • That same year, 2009, I endured the mother of all failures – DNF.  Can I be honest?  It still hurts to write about this race!  There are so many hopes and dreams tied into your first marathon and to have that experience turn out so poorly is a bitter pill even years later.  Anyhoo, the plan.  I printed it out from Runner’s World and did exactly what it said, even though I didn’t like it.  Running slower than even my very slowest pace was hard for me.  Rather than filling me with confidence that I could spend that many hours on my feet, it sucked the will to run fast right out of me.  I followed all the conventional wisdom about pre-long run and mid-run fueling and spent all of my long runs chucking-up at the side of the road.  I never successfully completed a 20-miler.  Self-doubt was a constant companion during that training cycle.  The day of the race, non-stop barfing landed me in the med tent at Mile 20.

023I was smiling at the starting line, but ended the day with a whole lotta tears.

“My goodness, P,” you might be thinking to yourself right about now, “this is a really depressing post!”  Yeah, sorry about that.  But it has a happy ending, I promise!  Because here’s what I’ve learned from all those failures:

  • Failing at reaching a goal doesn’t make you (and by “you” I mean “me”) a failure.
  • When you fail once, you can either try again or re-adjust your goal.  Or both.
  • Better yet, you can re-adjust your goal, try again AND make some smart changes to your training and your plan!

Coming up next:  Part Three, where I put all that failure to work for me.

17 comments:

Megan said...

Totally agree - all experiences shape us, whether they are when we reach or don't reach our goals.

Alma said...

Let's hear it - I wanna know where you're going because I'm still trying to work with my big F.

coach dion said...

I bet your training had nothing to do with the fact that you DNF at that 1st marathon.

It's not the program that needed changing, but you needed a coach (and you can coach yourself) to change the days/runs/sessions into the way it works for you.

I coach people I don't write programs. can't wait to see how you turned yourself into a coach...

Tortuga_Runner said...

I started running in 2005 and I am so far from smart about my training. My learning curve is a little curvier than yours LOL We all come from somewhere and I love that all your "fails" were pretty darn successful.

Char said...

There's no way you're a failure if you're still out there giving it a go. You'd be a failure if you'd thrown in the towel. All those unrealized goals have made you tougher and smarter and more determined.

Christi said...

Failures are just lessons to learn from and to make you better. Sounds good on paper but really hard to believe in the heat of the moment!

Kara said...

This post was depressing, but then I saw your zebra arm warmers and everything was better again. :)

bobbi said...

I'm loving this...it's all so true. Everything we do shapes us going forward, even if it was technically a FAIL at the time. (btw, I totally don't count a 25 minute 5k as a fail. WOW. 1 second or not, that rocks!)

The Jesse said...

i've had a lot of ups and downs in the 4 years i've been running but i've really taken a hard look at my training in previous years and learned from my mistakes and approached training this year so differently.

i LOVE this: "When you fail once, you can either try again or re-adjust your goal. Or both. Better yet, you can re-adjust your goal, try again AND make some smart changes to your training and your plan!" SOOOO true :)

runningonwordsblog.com said...

Such a good point! I need to give myself permission to fail once in awhile. I have this awful sinking sadness about taking a DNS in October even though I know it is the right thing to do.

Marisa @ The Pace of my Life said...

We definitely learn from our experiences.
It sounds like you are being a little hard on yourself, but I am one to talk, huh!!

JenWa098 said...

It's funny, but reading times people write as a "fail" and having them as my ultimate goal makes me feel like such a slow poke. It's like being a shetland pony at the Kentucky Derby. I may be cute, but I'm not getting anything done.

ajh said...

I can't wait to read Part 3. And congrats to your hubs on such an awesome PR in his half Ironman!

Laurie said...

Your #2 failure is so sad. :( It seems silly that it's so much more disappointing to miss a goal by mere seconds than minutes or more, but that's the way it is to me. I can't wait to read how you turned it all around... because I know that you did. :)

Raina said...

Funny, I see a common theme here in the plans : Printed off from runnersworld. I have done that too. Makes me wonder if it was SmartCoach, or one of the other plans in the training section...

Missing a goal by one second is heartbreaking. I would obsess about that one second forever...and try to get into another race ASAP to fix it!!
I am excited to see how your new plan will look! You have so much more race and training experience now than then.

Colleen said...

I think "failure" is a good thing for a runner/triathlete. How we define failure and what we make of it afterward is the most important part. I totally get your "time goals" as being failures, as well as your DNF, but in all honesty, they made you stronger! :) I like the honesty of this post...we've all been there!

Lancer!! said...

Glad I'm taking your advice and not winging it. Looking forward to Part 3.