Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome

There's an old saying that a battle plan is only good until the first shot is fired. Well, the title of this post was a slogan I learned in the Marine Corps and one I often repeat in my high school classroom when a well laid plan must be trashed due to unforeseen circumstances.

The same truth holds when training for endurance races. The odds of being able to stick precisely to a training plan that spans several months are almost nil.

If you're not a regular reader, you may not know that I recently began training specifically back-to-back marathons I'm registered to run in December. I'm not following any distance runner guru's plan, or any plan you'll find in a book or magazine, but I do have a plan, one that I came up with that fits my schedule (usually) and makes perfect sense to me.

The plan is simple really. Run a lot of miles and double up on long runs. Instead of one long run on Saturday, I started about three weeks ago to run back-to-back long runs on Friday and Saturday. The first week I ran 8 and 10 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The next week, 10 and 10. The next 11 and 11. So my plan for this week was to get 12 and 12.

But life happened.

It worked out that the dead period for Arkansas high school athletics began today. If you don't know, the dead period is a two week span during which coaches are not allowed to work with athletes. No practice for two weeks. When we found that out, we scheduled our annual trip to see my wife's parents to coincide.

That meant a 1000 mile drive began yesterday morning, just about the time I usually step off on my first long run of the week. Since I didn't think it wise to get up at two in the morning to squeeze in twelve miles THEN try to drive 1000 miles, the run was a casualty of circumstance. So the long drive took the place of the long run.

Whenever we make that drive, we leave so early because it brings us to our destination in time to visit for a couple of hours before hitting the hay. We found that waiting to leave later in the day really causes us to lose two complete days, the traveling day and a day to recover. Heading out so early allows the recovery to occur the same night of the marathon drive.

So this morning I was still able to salvage one long run for this week.
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." -- Isaiah 43:19
And with the help of the Good Lord, salvage it I did!

In the past we normally made this trip in late July/early August, the hottest part of the summer. That time of year, the same heat and humidity that make running so tough in the summer back home is what I face here also. So it was kind of a surprise this morning to be greeted by crisp, cool air when I stepped out the door.

It's been some time since it felt that good when I began a long run, so I decided to fully exploit this unexpected window of opportunity. I decided to go for at 15 miles on the first day of our summer vacation.

After a quick stop at Wal Mart for Powerade and M & M's, it was a little after 5 when I hit the paved walking/running/biking trail in Jacksonville, NC to begin my run. The asphalt trail is right at 6.5 miles long from beginning to end. Where I park is just shy of 3 miles from one end and just over 3.5 miles from the other.

Though the first mile was a little slow while I got warmed up, I then settled into just under a 10 minute pace for the rest of the first leg. I arrived back at the car with 5.8 miles finished and still felt good. After a short break to rehydrate and take on a little fuel, I stepped back onto the trail headed for the other end.

The second leg didn't require a warm up mile so I was able to manage a pretty consistent pace throughout. My fastest mile during this period was mile 9 at a 9:47 pace, the slowest was mile 7 in 10:06. When I again reached the car, my Garmin said I had completed 13 miles.

Again I took a few minutes to refuel, then was back on my way.

This time I headed back toward the main gate of Camp Lejeune, home of the United States Marine Corps' 2nd Division. This time though, I went out only one mile before turning around to run my 15th and final mile to the car.
"15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." -- Ephesians 5:15-16
That verse says it all. Life doesn't always go the way we want, the way we think it should. In those situations, we're not supposed to sit down and cry, bemoaning the fact that life isn't fair. We're supposed to look for opportunities, make the most of the situation.

So a 1000 mile drive might have stolen one day of my training week, but a slight adaptation today allowed me to make my longest run in at least a couple of months. Of course, Jesus Christ played a big part by turning the weather switch to "NICE" for today's run. As always, my successful training day could not be possible without the grace and blessings of our Lord and Savior.

A lot of people get really worked up when a wrench gets thrown into the gears of their marathon training plans. I hope that at least a few of you will remember these words the next time life happens and throws you off your plan.

Adapt, improvise, and overcome.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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