Sometimes you need a plan C

Doing long runs while travelling isn’t the easiest thing, so I originally planned on fitting in a 10-miler before work on Friday morning. However, the midnight relay race that I ran on Thursday cancelled out that plan. Instead, I ran 7 recovery miles Friday evening. On Saturday, I travelled to Boston and took a much needed day off from running. The night started off with wine and pizza….

Continued with oatmeal stout beer, chocolate cream pie, and card games…

And ended with me gettin’ my dance on at a bar near Harvard Square. Not ideal preperation for a long run, but I still set my alarm for bright and early the next morning.

Before leaving NYC, I mapped out a 10 mile route near my friend’s neighborhood and diligently packed my Garmin and running clothes. What I didn’t plan for? The 6 inches of snow and winter weather that greeted me Sunday morning. By 9am, the roads and sidewalks still weren’t plowed or shoveled and I didn’t have access to a treadmill. What to do?!

When I knew a long run wasn’t going to happen in Boston, I booked an earlier bus back to NYC and made plans to do my long run once I got home. It was nearly 7:30pm by the time I got to my gym in the city – I had been sitting on a bus for 4.5 hours, I was hungry, tired, and not really looking forward to running 10 solo miles. But it had to be done, so I quickly changed into my running gear and hit the roads of Central Park. I initially told myself that I all I had to do was one big loop (6 miles), but once I got movin’, I actually felt pretty good. The mild, windless night allowed me to wear shorts (!!) and having the park to myself was kind of relaxing. After a weekend of non-stop action (travel, socializing with friends, etc), it was nice to have some time to myself. The solitary darkness of the park was energizing (and okay, maybe a little creepy) and I found myself pushing the pace. Before I knew it, I had finished 10 miles in 1:24.

I certainly do not have the perfect training regime. On the weekends I probably sleep too little and drink too much beer. I admittedly fail at doing core work and strength training. BUT, the one thing that I do pride myself on is flexibility. I’m not talking about the kind that comes froms yoga, but rather the ability to roll with the punches and make a plan B, C, or even D if necessary. Sometimes this means running by myself, after a long day of work or travelling. Sometimes it means squeezing in a workout during my lunch hour. Other times, I find myself setting the alarm before sunrise.

Would it have been preferrable to do this run at 7:30am (or at least in daylight hours)? Of course. But, that just wasn’t in the cards this weekend. I thought about bagging the whole run, ordering in take-out, and watching the Academy Awards…I came very close to doing that, but this weekend’s long run was important to half-marathon training and I knew I had to get it done.

Some things that helped make this run happen:

  • I made myself accountable – I told my friends that I needed to head back to NYC early to do my long run. I plotted out when and where I would fit it in. If you tell people your goals (whether it be via a blog, twitter, in person, whatever) – it will hold you accountable. How lame would I feel if I told everyone I was going to do a long run and then I ate pad thai take out instead?
  • I didn’t allow my thoughts to wander. Everytime I started thinking about alternatives (i.e. skipping my run and going to bed early), I forced my thoughts back to the run. I thought about how good I would feel once I was done. I compiled a playlist of “pump up” songs in my head. I planned out what delicious snack I would have afterward. Personally, as soon as I start to contemplate the alternatives (like skipping the run!), it’s game-over, so I try to stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Take things step by step. I KNEW that if I went home first I would never get out the door, so eventhough I planned on running outdoors, I headed to my gym to change and drop off my stuff. I tackled the run with baby steps and told myself: first just get to the gym, just put on your running clothes, just do one loop of the park, etc. Focusing on one step at a time makes doing something less daunting.

This may seem like a lot of mental effort for one dinky run, but I think the point is that there’s always going to be a reason for not doing something. If running is important to you (and racing a good half-marathon IS important to me), then you need to find a way to make it happen.

After the run, I made a pit-stop at the grocery store and picked up some pineapple salsa and blue corn tortilla chips.

I heated the oven to 350F and layered black beans, monterey jack cheese, and salsa on the chips. A few minutes in the oven melted the cheese. I filled a big bowl with spinach and then topped it with my homemade nachos. Dinner in less than 10 minutes, done and yum.

I’m always looking for advice on getting myself motivated (especially when I least feel like…). Do you guys have any tips or tricks of your own?

  • you always manage to get your supa-long runs in, and to me that proves not only how dedicated you are to the sport, but how much you enjoy it. if leaving your boston friends means long run later, it’s worth it, i’d say considering you partied hard the night before and got your quality card and beer time in. love the ‘chos, your run-thusiasm, this post overall and you. happy monday!

  • Well said! I 100% agree. You need to be flexible (especially in the winter) and may find yourself running at odd times of the day!

    If I’m training for something, my runs are not-negoitable. I HAVE to do them. Inconsistant running will not help come race day!

  • I get really motivated when I read about running (ie: other people’s blog, books, RW, etc). It really helps.

  • I love that you do it all! I’ve never seen spinach in nachos before, but will definitely give that a try!

  • running while traveling is wicked hard. when i went to philly my training kind of went to the wayside. although after my long bus ride i got out on the roads. i didn’t run as well as you but i got out there. to get myself motivated i just have to remind myself how disappointed i’ll be come race day if i know i was skipping stuff

  • Kristan

    Those nachos look so delicious! I have never thought of using spinach or other green, but it is a good idea. You really accomplished a lot this weekend- traveling, socializing, and running!

  • Jill

    Your dedication is incredible! This post will make me think twice whenever I feel like bagging on my next run 🙂

  • Racing keeps me motivated and I think incorporating shorter races into my marathon training played a big role in reaching my time goals. I’m nervous that I won’t find as many to do when I find myself training for NYC while not living in NYC anymore!

  • Those nachos look tasty! I keep telling myself 5 more minutes and when 5 minutes is up, I say another 5 more minutes. Works sometimes.

  • Maren

    My mantra is: “You have never regretted a workout/run before, so just get out there and do it!”

  • can’t believe it snowed in Boston – yikes! I would have felt all out of sorts if my plan had been thrown off – you’re so good at being flexible 🙂 Races always keep me motivated, plus the fact that I just love running (injuries make you realize just how much)! Hope we can run again very soon (yay!)

  • Glad you had a good time in Boston. Sorry you didn’t get to go out for a run!

  • Meggie

    I’m horrible at being flexible….so it was a great reminder to be flexible reading this!

  • You can also try my method to make yourself accountable to planned runs, which is to have a stubborn OCD brain. It’s annoying. And makes it very hard for me to take a day off.

    East Coasters seem so friggin cool. Your Boston day sounds like a dream come true, it’s amazing to me that 2 incredible cities like Boston and NY are so close to each other…

  • Being flexible is the most important tip that works for me. Not having an all of nothing attitude and working around whatever comes up keeps my exercise regime going. You rocked those 10 miles girl!

  • I’m glad you had fun in Boston and made it home in time to do your long run!! Snow has been throwing off my running plans all winter – I love your mental strategies for holding yourself accountable to run anyway. Whenever I’m tempted to let the snow be my excuse to not run, I think about the marathon and how I’ll feel on race day if I knew that I didn’t train as well as I could have because the weather threw off my plans. Training for anything in the winter definitely requires being flexible and willing to change the plans! I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you, but it seems like this was just a crazy weekend! Next time 🙂

  • Wow, I am impressed that you ran 10 miles after sitting on a bus home from Boston! That takes dedication!

  • Not that you haven’t heard this a ba-jillion times but you never regret a workout but you will regret skipping one=) I also try to remind myself that the longer I put things off the worse I’m going to feel when I actually do it! I am a lazy butt so sometimes neither of these work for me. P.s. your impromptu nachos looks amazing=)

  • Your self-discipline is amazing. I am so jealous. I live with a runner, so just watching him lace-up every morning gives me incentive to do the same myself… however, since we travel in a motorcoach about 6 months of the year, sometimes we in an unfamiliar town and it isn’t always wise/safe, etc., for an old lady to hit the roads alone. If in an unknown/unsafe area, we usually find the local high school is the best place for a run. Sure, it is around and around the track, but that is often the best choice – and we can see each other, even if we are not running together. Thanks for a very inspirational post!

  • this post just proves that it *is* possible to fit it all in – the socializing, the traveling, the working, the running. i operate similarly when navigating my usually packed schedule, thinking about what is flexible and what isn’t. as long as you’re able to do everything you want to do, it doesn’t necessarily matter exactly when you do it, right?

  • I don’t know how you do it, but running around Central Park at night, by yourself?! It sounds beautiful but I think I’d be too afraid to do it…unless it’s well lit and there are enough people around to feel safe. I’m glad you had a good run and worked everything out to ensure that you got it in.

  • I love those tips for getting out there when it’s hard . . . especially not letting your mind wander. And the step-by-step thing. I’m sure I’ll be recalling that often as I am having to wake up early to do my training runs before my kids wake up.

    When I don’t want to get out of bed to go for a run, I always imagine what my day/attitude will be if I don’t go running: Do I want to sleep another hour, or do I want to have a good day? Do I want to start out the day feeling like a slacker? Or do I want to pump up my energy and kill it on the hills?