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Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

It’s a saying that my mom used to say to me every now and then. What does it mean? Well, there were two uses in my household; one, it would be kind of like having two good friends, and you either take something away or withhold something from your first friend (ignoring how that would make him or her feel) to give to or pay a second friend.

It’s also a way Mom used to show me that I was trying to get something I didn’t earn/deserve. Instead of earning it, I was trying to take a short cut. For example, not doing my homework so I could play more basketball (and what happens when my grades start tanking? No more basketball . . . and oh, like THAT’S really fair, Mom! : ) Basically, the whole idea being, what you THINK is a good idea to cut some corners, ends up coming back to bite you.

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this . . . perhaps not. : )

In the running world, so MUCH of our time is (rightly) consumed with preparing for races – getting the mileage in so we can run a 10K, half-marathon, marathon, or even ultra-marathon. But what happens when life happens and our big plans for that big race starts to hit bumps . . . we don’t miss just one long run but multiple long runs. Instead of getting all of our mileage in for the week, we’re getting less than half of it . . . and it continues for several weeks?

Well, stink, aren’t we all tempted to start thinking, I already paid for that race, so I’d better do something to get ready for it!

So, we start messing with our training calendar (and our minds) . . . okay, let’s jack the mileage up here and here . . . add in another run there . . . and oh, if I take it easy, I can add some miles to my recovery week . . . yeah, I can get my marathon training mileage about doubled in two weeks – PERFECT!

The robbery taking place? Time. In running, time is king. Your body needs time to strengthen, harden, recover. So, you’re stealing time in order to pay for what? Your desire to run a race!

Let me take a side trip (stay with me on this : ). For me, I wanted to marry a woman whose beliefs matched mine, so we would be a couple with united spiritual pursuits, encouraging to one another in those pursuits, rather than being a divided household (and what that would one day mean for our children). So, how did I accomplish that? I didn’t date anyone who didn’t believe as I did. It was my decision and a decision I’m forever grateful for (though it wasn’t always an easy one to keep). Why this decision? Because I know that the heart wants what the heart wants – love is blind and if you place yourself in position to fall in love with another person who you KNOW has very different views on how life should be lived, well, what happens if you fall for him/her? The heart wants what it wants . . . in order to make that relationship work, you start lying to yourself . . . I can make this work, he/she will change, I can change him/her, it won’t be that bad, etc.

Now, back to running. You DESIRE to run that race. You want what you want – you’ve invested in it financially and at least somewhat physically. You WANT to do it, so you start lying to yourself (and denying reality/proven advice): I can make this work, the extra mileage will be okay, it won’t be that bad, my body is tough enough to handle it, etc. . . . all to make your desired race a reality.

Let’s cut to the chase. In a relationship, that deep down you know isn’t right, but you refuse to seek advice even from those who care about you (because you already know you’ve been telling yourself lies . . . but the heart wants . . .), you are headed for trouble. In running, if you’ve been trying to make up for lost time/miles on your running schedule — whether by your own lack of discipline or due to an injury or other legitimate reason — and find yourself trying to cram in extra miles and days to “catch up” on your race training, it’s time to step back. Go to a knowledgeable running friend and have him or her look at your training schedule: what it’s supposed to be, what it has been, and what you’re going to do to adjust it to “catch up.” Is it reasonable? Maybe. But if your friend starts shaking his/her head, uses words like, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure about this,” . . . can you say, “BIG Red Flag”?

Simply put, when you start condensing a training calendar, adding miles at a faster pace than is advised – your body hasn’t been properly conditioned and the chances for an injury that could be months in healing, rise dramatically. By the way, as we runners often forget, a running injury doesn’t typically just impact running, it also impacts much of our everyday lives!

How do you know if you’re trying to “fool yourself” into doing a race you don’t have time to train for? Ask yourself: Do you spend time a lot of time justifying your decision? Do your decisions line-up with standard training advice? Are a strong majority of other experienced runners in agreement with what you’re doing? Are you purposefully avoiding the insights of others because “you know what they’re going to say”? If you find yourself answering “yes” to these questions, it’s time to give up your dream today, so you can dream tomorrow. : )

Yes, it is one of the most difficult things in the world to walk away from what your heart wants, whether it’s a race or a relationship (which is, admittedly the far tougher of the two). But if you are willing to listen to others who you trust, it can (and likely will) save you a world of hurt . . . both physically (running) and emotionally (relationships). : )

Have an awesome run today!


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