Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Unexpected Rest Day

As any parent knows, when your child gets sick, they don't do it when it's convenient. Rarely do they get sick when they're off from school and if they do it's during some other important event. Obviously there are exceptions, but you know what I mean. It just seems such a hassle to adjust your schedule but at the same time you love them so much you'd jump off a cliff if that's what it took to keep them safe.

So when Elizabeth developed a fever last night, along with a sore throat and loss of appetite, I knew my run today would likely be postponed. I read about a fellow runner's 14 mile run and felt the urge to "one-up" them with a 15 mile run. As usual, my desire to talk smack ended up badly. Instead of a 15 mile run, I ended up driving a sick kid to the doctor. Turns out she caught the strep throat going around school, scored some meds, a day off school, and lots of rest time.

In the end, 15 miles versus caring for your sick kid is always going to end with me hoping my kid gets better. I don't care if it's the most important race in the world, family comes first. I might do my best to get somebody to help out if the event I may miss is important enough, but my family always wins when it gets to the bottom line of the tally sheet.

So today I didn't much care that I missed my long run. I was more worried about her feeling better than I was getting my miles in. Besides, there's a lesson to learn here as a runner besides being a good parent.

That lesson is adaptability. You can call it flexibility or going with the flow, but in the end, it's how you adapt to what life tosses your way that will define who you are and how well you survive life. And this applies to your life as a runner too. Having a mental meltdown because you forgot gloves or a hat to a race could leave you with a less than stellar performance or, even worse, a DNF or DNS. Break a shoelace? Lose your Body Glide? Any and all of these may seem like events that would end or seriously hamper your race, but they are all scenarios that can be overcome.

That's where adaptability comes in. I know, doesn't sound like a cool word to remember and repeat to yourself as a mantra when you're 20 miles into a 50 mile race. So why not think about MacGyver?

As in, What Would MacGyver Do?

That's right, thinking like MacGyver could save your race and your mind. Those gloves you forgot? No worries if you have a spare set of socks. No Gatorade or liquid carbs to take in during a long run? No worries if you have access to a coffee stand (no, don't drink the coffee, instead add some sugar and salt to your water). Get the idea? It's all in how well you can adapt to the situation that will determine how well you survive your run and life in general.

So today, when life tossed a curve ball, I adapted and moved my long run to Friday. And if I can't get it in then, no worries, I can do it Sunday. Or next week. Missing a long run won't hurt, but how I adjust to the change can help later on in my training.