Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You can't nail every decision

My dad gave me a good piece of advice a few years back that I remind myself of fairly frequently: You're not going to be able to make every decision perfectly.

Most recently, this applied to scheduling my long run. I was out on a five-miler last Friday, daydreaming about how pleasant the weather was, how good my legs were feeling and how much time I would have to do other things post-run, when I thought: "Maybe I should just repeat this route and knock out the 10-miler."

But then, of course, I came up with several reasons to just wait. Hours later, as I checked the weekend weather forecast, I saw snow and lower temperatures through Monday (the last day of my "weekend"), and kicked myself until Dad's saying grew louder than the "should" statements.

When Sunday afternoon — the first time I had available to do a long run — rolled around, I came up with more reasons to wait: The wind was biting, and the flurries made it hard to see; the ground might be messy; I was tired; I had errands to run; etc. After all, the weather widget predicted no snow Monday afternoon.

Cue the Monday midmorning weather check: Snow had fallen, temps remained low, winds were going to pick up in the afternoon. Crap.

I also knew, though that, the longer I waited, the less likely I was to accomplish the run. So I girded my loins and headed out.

It wasn't my best long run, but it was far from my worst. One thing I found myself not minding at all were the snowy rec paths — they were pretty and cushioned that way! — yet as I did errands in the afternoon, noting the dry sidewalks, I heard it again: "You went too early, Sadye. Should've waited until the afternoon."

This time, instead of Dad's voice, I heard the voice of Kristin Armstrong, Runner's World blogger (and, yes, ex-wife of Lance). Her most recent post addressed the courage to try:

"How often do we all do that? Think that we will try the thing when we are better prepared to try?
"Isn’t that the point of 'try'?"

I'd been doing that all weekend, and by running despite the conditions — and in fact surviving just fine — I'd put two powerful pieces of advice into action. I'm not a pro athlete in a temperate climate; timing a run "perfectly" isn't going to happen every single time, by any means.

And what do I gain by waiting for that ideal balance? I'm training for race day, not for perfect running day ... which the race day could very well not be. (See Rockford Half Marathon 2012 and its noon temperature of 80 degrees.)

By not waiting, I gained more confidence for the half marathon. I'd been averaging some good speed on long runs, but in good weather; in less-than-ideal weather this time, I averaged just a little faster than what I've done previously.

Additionally,  the fatigue I felt was far more mental than physical. Something I'm doing is paying off!

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