I’ve always been a planner. Your typical “Type A.” I could never pretend that i don’t have all these little lists of things that I need to get done – ranging from simple grocery store lists, to future home project, and more serious lists like life goals. I’ve learned how to navigate the twists and turns of my plans going awry and needing to adapt and remake my list.
The thing about me is that while I have things planned out, I’m also ready to adapt and be a little spontaneous.
Plans are just outlines.
A rough draft.
Something that can always be manipulated to get back on track.
But none of us were ready for 2020.
How could we learn to deal with a pandemic? None of us have lived through anything like this. How is it possible to adapt when there are so many unknowns? Spontaneity got dumped right out the window when our safer-at-home orders came through.
It will come as no surprise, but our first few months of this hit hardest for me. For most of us, really. We couldn’t see family or friends. Restaurants closed. Wisconsin bars closed! (Yes this is serious!) We couldn’t travel. All our plans got cancelled. All of them. It felt like there was no end in sight.
But one thing remained a constant in my life.
I started my ultra-marathon training in January. For a race in September. Official training started in April, but I needed to “pre-train” to get to the level I needed to be to just start training. Training for an ultra-marathon was something I never thought I would do. Even though I did a lot of running by myself in those first few months, it was that ONE thing in my life that didn’t change. Running was one thing I wasn’t afraid to do. For the first time in my life, I was afraid to see family and friends. I didn’t want to get gas in my car. I didn’t want to go grocery shopping. I even had a quarantine birthday. But running kept me sane. As best it could anyway.
That’s the thing about plans though. They always change. No matter what you think that constant is. Something is going to sweep you off your feet and force you to change. Even if you think you are standing on solid ground. You’re not.
May 9th. This was the last time I really ran through trails. I pulled my groin muscle. I can only assume it was from the constant dodging back and forth over rocks and leaping over tree branches. At first, it was what felt like a little pull. It didn’t hurt during my run. I described it as, “It feels like my quads after I run. They are sore after a run like the usual expected fatigue. No shooting pain during or after a run.” I decided to stop trail running, but continue my training on pavement for now. I could handle that. A small change which kept me away from some of my running partners, but a necessary change as to not aggravate muscles any more than I needed to.
May 23rd. My 18 mile run went so smoothly. I had continued my training on pavement. I needed to keep some sort of normalcy in my day to day life. I made sure to ice and stretch and really stay in tune to how my body was feeling. There wasn’t anything more than a little soreness which would last for not even a day, and then I felt as good as new.
May 26th. Plans. Out. The. Window. My 6 mile run ended abruptly 3 miles in. I tripped over an uneven sidewalk, and as I stumbled forward, catching myself from falling on the pavement, I jammed my leg into the ground, sending a shooting pain down my leg and my groin that had me stop running and walk the 3 miles home. This wasn’t the rough draft of an outline that I thought I’d ever have to rework. I didn’t want to not be able to run. I walked a mile, and tried to jog a little bit. Nope. It hurt. I wished in that moment that I would have just let myself fall. A bunch of scrapes on my arm would have been better than a jammed leg, right? This bump in the road wasn’t a contingency I planned for.
I stopped running for a few days. I felt a little lost without that one thing in my life that I could always count on being there. It forced me to learn even more about adapting to change, even if I didn’t want to. I attempted to run June 3rd, but that was a mistake. After talking with a few friends who had groin injuries before, I decided that I needed to just take the time off. Pounding the pavement wasn’t what I needed. I tried a test run with my bike to see how I would feel. I figured that there wasn’t as much impact on my legs with bike riding than there was with running.
To my surprise, I felt great. I went into the bike ride thinking that I would need to walk it home. I wanted to have low expectations in order to not be disappointed. I think the hardest thing about training for anything is when it gets derailed. To know the limits between pushing yourself hard and pushing yourself to prolong an injury is a hard line to find. But I took a step back from running and hopped on my bike.
It was such a pleasant surprise how much I enjoyed biking. I used it as a second form of transportation, but really, it was my source of cardio. Between June 1st and June 17th, I put in 150 miles on my bike.
I never once experienced any pain. Soreness, yes, but that’s expected. And it was mostly in my quads and calves. Not anywhere else. I was learning more limits for myself and taking steps out of my own comfort zone:
– My first 30 mile bike ride
– Riding down busy roads isn’t as scary as I thought it would be
– Riding at night is way more fun than nerve-wracking
– Being more comfortable alone
– Finding out that a 13-20 mile bike ride day didn’t knock me out
– Not caring about random ass sweat marks in public 🙂
– Embracing some serious tan lines
I found a love for biking that I never thought I’d have. To be fair, the bikes I have been on before were not my own and not as nice, so the seat hurt. A lot. It turned me off to biking. No one wants to go on a bike ride and not be able to sit later. But that didn’t happen.
Between Jun 17th and the 25th, I did some yoga and a handful of runs: a few 2 milers to start, then two 6 milers, a couple 5Ks and a 4 mile. I never once felt any pain. It was such a relief. I was starting to second guess how long I would be out.
My running buddy and I have both been out on injuries, but doing so well. We have a planned marathon on July 4th. Both of us really wanted to get on track with training for our ultra again and decided to take a shot and see how a 20 miler would do. We got up early Friday morning (Jun 26) and ran 20 miles, and both felt great during the entire run! It’s such an accomplishment to run 20 miles in the first place, but we’ve dealt with some serious wrenches in the training plan. I’m really proud of both of us.
I’m pretty sure I stretched for the entirety of Friday and Saturday. And iced more times than I could count. Was I a little afraid I took it too far? Yeah. Kind of. At this point I started planning for the worst case scenario. How could we not after the year we’ve been having? After all, my last long run was a month prior. I kept telling Melissa that we would be alright. That muscle memory would just kick in. And we would just stop if either one of us felt like we were pushing too much. We dialed down the pace and talked the entire time.
And just like that, the bump in the road that I thought would end up derailing my entire training, ended up not being so bad after all. To be able to pick yourself up from whatever situation you are in and rework that life list and get back on track… it’s such a proud and happy moment. Especially when there are so many unknowns.
I should have ran 150 miles in June. RAN. 150 miles. I ended June with 50 running miles, and 160 biking miles (which is about the cardio equivalent of roughly 54 running miles) To me, that’s a big deal. It feels so far off my training plan. I’m sure by now, there have been a few thoughts from readers (if they even got this far) of, “Really? But it was an injury that barely took you out from training. It could have been so much worse!”
Of course it could have been worse. No matter what situation you’re in, something is always worse. But what does comparing do? Honestly. Think about that. What purpose does comparing have? Our ups and downs in life shouldn’t be measured against someone else’s ups and downs. Who is to say what is worse and what isn’t worse? Feelings are feelings and those are valid. That constant need to one up each other is the reason I haven’t really talked about this… until now.
Since March and the start of coronavirus, I started to surround myself with a true tribe of badass women, and yes, men too. While my change in plans may have seemed small, it had a huge impact on me.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to have to rework your plans as many times as you need to.
It’s okay to not even know what your plan is going to be.
It’s okay to change your mind about how you feel about a certain topic after learning new developments.
I learned a little bit of confidence in some of my decisions.
I’ve spoken out a little more about what I want, which has probably turned some people off to me, but I’ve gotten closer to some of my friends because of it.
It’s okay to want to be alone. And there’s no reason to make up an excuse to not hang out or go to an event. “I don’t want to” is an acceptable reason.
It’s ok to talk about failures. It isn’t always meant to be taken as “please pity me,” but instead, “hey, you’re not alone.” You never know who is going through things.
2020 is not over.
And from what we’ve seen so far, I’m not sure what Jumanji level we will end up at in December.
I know I’ll be challenged again and again when it comes to life, and training, and work, an anything else that life decides to throw at me (but like, please murder hornets, stay away).
One thing I know is for sure: The only actual constant in my life… is change.