How To Stop Avoiding Race Training

Photo: courtesy of John Stewart.

Photo: courtesy of John Stewart.

Several months ago, you signed up for a big race.

And you came up with the perfect training plan to get you in the best shape ever. It’s extensive and tough! You’re going to work hard, really hard, for this one. You’re going to get everything right.

When time rolls around to start training for the race, life might set you behind a little but if you’re honest, you’re dragging your feet a little too. There’s so much hard work ahead in that plan, it’s discouraging.

Guilt sets in.

You’re seriously going to start anyway but the next thing you know, you miss a few long runs and you’re seriously behind.

More guilt.

You have to do something massively epic to get back on track. Except you don’t.

Even more guilt.

Now it’s overwhelming. You thinking about cancelling out of this race you really wanted to do and have been telling everyone you’re going to do.

Yet even more guilt.

The longer you avoid training, the more the training “debt” snowballs and the bigger the guilt grows, in a cycle.

How did you get here?

The problem started with a tough training plan that might work but you weren’t in your heart of hearts excited about. You were going to have to force yourself to do it, and that kind of motivation doesn’t last.

So you avoided it because you didn’t want to do it, which can be hard to admit.

That’s how the guilt set in and the cycle started. The more you avoided the tough plan, the tougher it got, and the less excited you were about doing it. 

So now here you are, behind on training. You can’t undo the avoiding. How do you get back on track?

First, break the cycle by taking the smallest step you can today to make positive forward progress toward your race goal. Run six miles. Run one. 

And make that ok. No guilt allowed. No looking at your watch so you can beat yourself up about pace instead.

You have nothing to lose. Taking the small step you want instead of the massive snowball-sized one you “have to” but probably won’t, gets you moving. Today. 

Once you start running or getting back on your plan, you’ll have a better idea of where you really are, training-wise. You might have to adjust your race plans but you also might not be as far behind as you imagine.

It boils down to this. If you’re stuck in the avoidance-guilt cycle and your big race is approaching, you have two choices:

1. Keep putting your training off and create the self-fulfilling prophecy you’re worried about.

2. Take the smallest action you can today and get out of that cycle with forward momentum.

Small steps might not be part of a perfect plan but they’re better than avoiding it.

Susan Donnelly’s signature

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