Despite being the youngest of three children, I follow the rules like a firstborn. I use my turn signal even when no other car is anywhere in sight. I follow recipes down to the last 1/4-teaspoon of this, 1/2-cup of that. If I have 16 items in my grocery cart, I steer clear of the Express checkout. And when a training plan says run five miles, I will trot back and forth an extra block rather than stop my Garmin at 4.96 miles.
On a macro level, this means when I was training for, say, the Portland or Big Sur marathons last year, I did the precise workout I was supposed to do on the exact day the plan spelled it out for me. I remember Tuesday of Week 10 of training when I was supposed to run 4 x 1 mile at faster-than-tempo pace with 5 minutes of recovery between each. So, by gum, I did it--even though I was in Vancouver, B.C., promoting Run Like a Mother. (It made for a stunningly scenic run in Stanley Park, hugging the water.) The following day, the plan dictated 80 minutes with hills, going stronger at the top, so I had a friendly fan map out a hilly route for me, and there I ran, up and down, up and down, for one hour and 20 minutes (and not a second less) before hopping in my Honda Odyssey to head back to the States. Honestly, while in Canada, the thought never crossed my mind to substitute a different workout, or switch up the days of my plan, say opting instead for one of two of the week's 35-minute runs with six strides at the end. Nope, never once contemplated that change-up. (See my post about my commitment to wearing bifocals as a child if you need further proof of my ingrained rule-following nature.)
Yet that was back in the day when I ran six days a week, eschewing all other forms of exercise for our beloved pavement-pounding. Now I'm committed to two boot camp classes per week--one on Wednesday morning and another on Friday--which means running is not an option those days. When I finally jumped on a training plan (one of the two half-marathon plans in Train Like a Mother!) for Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas, my mind--and stickler sense--starting fritzing like a short-circuiting wire. My brain couldn't compute how to work in hard-and-fast exercise obligations with the requisite running workouts.
Then, like satellite transmissions crackling in the air around me, I heard the advice Dimity has imparted time and time again to mother runners on this site, on our Facebook page, and in person at race expos: Juggle your training schedule so it fits your life. Significant other on a fishing trip for the weekend? Do your long run on Friday morning. Visiting your relatives without a track within a 20-mile radius? Do your intervals before you head out of town. Missing a day because of dental surgery? Plan in advance to have it be your rest day. It seems so simple when Dimity says or types it, yet shuffling workouts was a big step for me. It helped me to follow a bit of advice Dim spells out in TLAM, which is keep the pattern of a hard workout being followed by an easy one, rather than doing, say, hill repeats the day after a long run.
With that blueprint in mind, my workout week goes something like this: Rest on Monday; do intervals or hill repeats on Tuesday; boot camp on Hump Day; run easy on Thursday; boot camp on Friday; then run long on Saturday or Sunday, with the other day either running, swimming, or biking. Hey, hey, look at me: Ms. Rigid getting all crazy with my weekend workouts! It's taken me 40-something years, but I'm finally acting like the youngest child I am...well, at least in my running life. I'm still a stickler for turn signals.
How 'bout you: Do you follow your training plan to. the. letter, or do you take a more relaxed approach to it?