The Importance of Flexibility (but not like that).

Last week I said I was going to run the 1-mile time trial that I missed during the last training block, and I didn’t. 

I don’t feel bad about this, in fact I feel pretty good about it. 

My body hasn’t been feeling particularly fresh recently, so with races cancelled it makes more sense to rest than it does to test

For this next block of training I have planned way further in advance than what I have done in the past. Over Autumn I worked 4-weeks in advance, but as we move towards Winter I’ve doubled that range (plus a couple of weeks in the build up to a possible race in January).

All I’ve done is print out a couple of monthly planners (November and December) and fill in each day with the session that I intend to do. 

The fact is, however, that there is no way that I am going to do every session on every day exactly as I have written it out. Work will get in the way, my body will get in the way, maybe even the weather will get in the way. Of course you need to work hard, sacrifice, do sessions even when maybe you don’t feel like doing them, but you also have to be realistic, and smart. Sometimes it is better not to do a session, and sometimes you simply won’t be able to.  

Planning so far ahead maps a destination, but the exact journey is guaranteed to change along the way. In fact I’m so prepared for this to be the case that the paper planner isn’t even the final plan – week by week I examine what I have plotted, and write out/change the scheduling onto a whiteboard which only shows the weekly plan. By re-examining my training on a weekly basis I make alterations, rearrange things, and sometimes scrap certain workouts altogether depending on how my body is responding to the workload, and also what else is going on in my life. 

Sticking rigidly to a plan does no one any favours. It promotes injury risk, fatigue, and even burnout. For me, the process is just as, if not more, important than the results at the end of a training block. If training feels like a complete slog, if it is wearing me down and out, then what’s the point? I’m no professional athlete, and I could keep relatively fit with an occasional jog or visit to the gym, so there is no need to commit to an ambitious training regime if it isn’t something that I can live with, or that I can work and socialise around. 

Consistency is the key, always, but being consistent doesn’t mean being overly stubborn. Failing to be flexible, failing to recognise when you shouldn’t run, will only damage long term consistency. A healthy runner always beats an injured one. A happy runner will keep going longer than a miserable one. I’m no sports scientist, but I’d wager running for a long time, injury free, is the only sure fire way for an athlete to reach their potential at any level. 

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