Sunday, January 22, 2012

Training Plan, Sweet Training Plan

Training plans... I peruse them like magazines fresh from the mail box or well-loved books.  All of my workouts fit neatly into the boxes of my calendars and spreadsheets.  I love order and structure!  A training plan is just that.  Each day leading up to my culminating event is mapped.  I find great comfort in that.  I study my training plan with rapt attention. I go over it with a fine toothed comb. What kind of modifications might need to be made? Where might there be room for flexibility?  Am I capable of carrying out the plans with my already full mothering and working schedule? How might my social life and housekeeping be squeezed in? Are my goals too easy, just right or overly ambitious?

If the layperson looked at my pile of papers, they would see a nothing more than a mess of jargon, acronyms and cryptic formulas.  I find this information irresistible.  It reads like poetry.  Ladder: w/u 3mi; 400, 800, 1600, 800, 400, 200. 10K pace up and 5K pace down. Surges, progressions, fartleks, intervals, pull buoys, cadence, RPMs, 30 sec recovery, HM pace, M pace, at 90% of HR.  Once my kiddos are tucked into bed, I reach for my training file.  I sift through, read, reread and try to make my training plans mesh with my life plans.  My stack of fiction and pile of magazines collect dust during training season. My movie queue sits dormant. Depending on the event I'm training for, these papers map out my life for the next 18 to 30 weeks.

Each week my partner, an ultra-runner/budding triathlete and I meet for negotiations. I am ridiculously lucky to have a partner with whom to share household and parenting duties. The happiness and well-being of our family requires an equitable distribution of labor and on-going communication.  We support and encourage each other, but at the same time hold firm on our individual needs.  If I want to trade workout days with Steve, I better come up with a tempting option to make it worth his while.  "Hey, babe. I really want to run with this group, but they happen to be running on Sunday morning. I know that Sunday mornings are yours, but would you be willing to trade Sunday for Saturday?" I carefully watch his face to see if he's willing to be flexible. If it looks like he's having to chew on the offer, I'll offer a bonus, "And, I'll also give you Friday morning to spin and lift at the gym." Such conversations are not unlike a competitive game of poker. "I'll see you your Sunday morning and raise you Friday."  For the most part, we are both able to get what we want and need. Sometimes one little tweak; a sick child, an appointment or travel plans, sends the whole house of cards flying. Then it's back to the drawing board.

My latest training plan includes a 25K trail run, a sprint triathlon, a half marathon, an Olympic triathlon and a half Ironman.  It's the most ambitious, complicated, time-consuming training plan I've ever had. I love it!  I can't stop looking at it, thinking about it and fine-tuning it. It's both exciting and daunting. As if the variables of work, kids, hubby-in-training and my multi-sport training aren't enough to muddy the waters, toss in hours of operation of my gym, lap swim schedule, limited daylight hours and fair weather for cycling, days and times of coach-led track workouts, availability of friends with whom to share workouts! It's quite the feat to come up with let alone carry out such a complicated plan.

So what is it about this challenge that appeals to me?  I enjoy making sense of nonsense, organizing things that seem destined for chaos, teaching children whom others have given up hope.  Reaching for athletic goals that seem much larger than I seems to fall right into this mix.  Perhaps Walt Disney said it best, "It is kind of fun to do the impossible." 

Best wishes to you readers as you go about your training plan and pursue your goals.

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