I had kind of an “aha” moment last night.
I was scrolling through my Timehop photos and saw this one:
I posted this photo on Instagram exactly one year ago, with the caption, “10 miles done and feeling great – could’ve done a few more if I had the time and it wasn’t so dang boring on the treadmill. I 💜 Galloway Training!!!” Ten miles and could’ve done more? Wow. I don’t remember that at all.
Then I started checking out my other Instagram photos from around that time. 8 miles on May 22. 10 miles on May 17. 10 miles on June 14. Even most of my shorter runs were 5-6 miles. I was kicking some serious butt, and I don’t think I even realized it.
So then I compared last May and June with now. What a difference a year makes – and not necessarily in a good way. My last long run was the half marathon in Jerusalem, which was almost 12 weeks ago, and I wasn’t even properly trained for that.
I think my longest run since then has been 5 miles, but for the most part I’m just doing the same 3-4 miles all the time. Some weeks I’ll run 4 or 5 times, while other weeks I’m lucky if I run at all.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong with running like this. Plenty of people who run for recreation or for physical fitness do exactly what I just described. My dad, for example, uses the same 3-4 mile course for most of his runs, and his weekly mileage varies according to his work schedule. But my dad isn’t training for a race right now.
But I run to race. In my short running career, I have always trained with a race in mind, even if it was only a vague plan – “a fall half marathon” or something like that. But lately I’m race-less.
That was Part One of my aha moment. I realized that I have no goal to drive me. No rudder to guide me.
And since I’m not training for anything, I’m not following any kind of training plan. I’m just out there by myself running willy-nilly.
Which leads to Part Two of my big aha. I don’t have anyone or anything to hold me accountable right now. No training plan, no coach, no group. And as life has shown me again and again, this doesn’t bode well for me, at least not when it comes to fitness.
I grew up as a dancer – first in a studio, and later on with my high school drill team.
Expectations were high, particularly in my drill team days. We attended a dance class 5 days a week and after-school practices several times a week, plus frequent performances, particularly during football and basketball season. Every aspect of our training was regimented, even down to hair, makeup, and clothes – we literally had a calendar that listed which outfit to wear to each practice.
I LOVED being part of the drill team. I loved the dancing, the girls, the coach. And looking back, I thrived in a setting where everything was mapped out for me. The plan was already made – all I had to do was show up and do my thing.
The College Years and Beyond
As you might guess, my fitness routine fell apart when I went to college and all this structure went away. I was on my own with no practices or classes…but with plenty of wine coolers and fraternity parties. I would occasionally take an aerobics class or run a couple of laps on the indoor track, and there was an unfortunate attempt at rollerblading. But these attempts at fitness were usually related to a slump in my body image or my desire to impress a boy rather than a genuine drive to be active.
I lived this way for a long, long time. Then 16 years ago, I met my husband, who is by far the most disciplined person I know – and my complete opposite in that regard.
He liked to exercise, and I followed his lead. We’d go for long, long walks, or we’d go to the tiny little gym in my apartment complex and run on the treadmills. As newlyweds, and later as new parents, we’d regularly walk around our neighborhood. Sometimes we ran, but we figured out pretty early on that we’re not good running partners. He’s fast and focused, and I’m slow and chatty. We drove each other crazy. (It’s probably more accurate to say that I drove him crazy. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)
After we had our second daughter, we joined the YMCA, and that’s when we really got our fitness routine down pat. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we’d hit the gym like clockwork. Sometimes we’d switch things around to take a class together. But the point is that he held me accountable. He was counting on me, and I was determined to keep up. I was healthy and in better shape than I’d been in for years.
But the problem with relying so heavily on one fitness partner, at least for me, was that when he wasn’t around, I had absolutely no motivation to work out on my own. If he was sick or had to travel or work late, there was pretty much zero percent chance of finding me at the gym. (He’d suggest that I work out at home, and I’d laugh and laugh…)
Still, most of the time this worked great, and we kept it up until I started focusing on running in mid-2012.
The Evolution of a Runner
I dove headfirst into running and almost immediately joined a marathon training program. Once again, I was expected to follow a schedule and participate in weekly group runs. As I’ve said before, this is one of the things that I really like about Galloway training – my schedule is predetermined, my pace is calculated for me, and even the courses are measured, mapped out, and set up with water stops. The only thing missing is the hair & wardrobe calendar!
But like I learned when transitioning from the rigidity of my high school drill team life to the freedom of college life, the ability to stick to a schedule does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with self-discipline. Don’t misunderstand – I’m not knocking my accomplishments, and I know that it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to train for a marathon regardless of what type of plan you follow. My point is that without 1) a structured schedule, and 2) a partner, group, or coach to hold me accountable, my training falls apart.
And that’s exactly what’s happened these last few months.
On my own, without a running partner, I can simply choose not to run that day…or that week. Without a training plan to follow, my running goals are completely arbitrary and easily changed. “I’m going to run 6 miles today. Or 5. Yeah, 5. Unless it’s hot, then I’ll do 4. Or if it’s really hot, maybe I’ll go to the gym and run on the treadmill. But then I’ll only have time to run 3. Well, 3 is good enough. I’ll do 6 next time.” See how easy that is?
I’m tired of my training being a mess. True, some of it hasn’t been my fault (illness, injury, family obligations), but some of it has. It’s time to get back on track.
The first part is easy: setting a goal. I have two: the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on 11/7/15 (hopefully with my friend Ginger who I met in Israel) and the 26.2 with Donna full marathon on 2/14/16.
The second part is a little trickier: finding a plan and/or a partner to help keep me accountable. Galloway marathon training starts on July 11, and I’ll be out of town for the first two Saturdays, so at a minimum that leaves me without a group for another 8 weeks.
So what do I do in the meantime? And the bigger question – will I do another season of Galloway training? Do I want to run-walk forever? Are there other methods or training plans that would work for me too? Or should I stick with Galloway because I know it works for me? Will I have the discipline/drive to train for a marathon without the Galloway program? Is there another plan that will provide comparable structure and support?
So many questions. No answers yet. One thing is clear, though. I need to find myself a rudder. Stat.