I've signed up to run my first (and probably last) marathon on May 2 and I recently hired a marathon coach for weekly phone sessions.
He's supposed to advise me on my training and answer any ongoing questions I have about injuries, nutrition, gear, and whatever else comes up.
He's a nice enough guy but every time we talk about schedules, I end up re-explaining that it's kind of hard for me to make firm commitments to specific training days.
Yes, I'll tell him, I plan to run on Monday, but, you know, it's possible I'll have to do it on some other day instead. Depending. It's hard to say.
Would it help if you wrote down your schedule ahead of time?" he asked innocently, while I reflected on this past week, which included, but was not limited to:
• A child who out of NOWHERE up and geysered barf all over the living room carpet on Sunday night
• Requiring yet another Family Consultation about who would stay home from work on Monday
• A trip to the emergency room on Monday night, the details of which I'd like to just go ahead and purge from my memory banks right now, thanks
• Another missed day of work on Tuesday
• My final school exam on Tuesday night
• My husband's workouts on Tuesday morning, Wednesday night, and Thursday morning
• The discovery that a giant work project is suddenly due next week, what the hell
And of course the usual household minutiae: laundry, groceries, meals, removing reeking piles of dog poop from the backyard, and so on.
I think one of the hardest aspects of juggling multiple roles and responsibilities is sometimes you just can't do the things you want to do when you want to do them. It's usually possible to dig up the time necessary to get everything done, it's just that sometimes it has to happen at inconvenient times. You know who likes going for a run in the dark after a full day of work and an evening of kid-wrangling? Not ME, that's for damn sure, but that's what I did last Wednesday.
It sucked. A lot. But I got my miles in. Just not on the exact day I was originally going to.
"Maybe your husband could watch the kids next time so you can run on your scheduled days?" said the trainer during our phone call.
"Well," I said as calmly as possible, "See, it's just that the reason I couldn't run on Monday was because we were busy. Taking our two-year-old to the hospital. I suppose I could have done some laps outside while we waited to see if he needed an IV, but, you know. I DIDN'T THINK TO BRING MY SHOES."
I keep taking on new goals because I love the feeling of accomplishment. I love the confidence I get from working hard. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there's no one way to do things. What works this week might not work the next. You've got to be willing to be flexible without letting go of what's important. Priorities change in the blink of an eye, and all the carefully drawn-up plans in the world won't make life any less unpredictable.
Like I said, this trainer's a nice guy. I'm not sure he gets it, though.