No Category selected Some decisions are best made far in advance of the situation

    Some decisions are best made far in advance of the situation


    There are some things that, despite sounding like common sense, you should make a conscious, explicit decision on when you are clear-headed and far removed from the situation where it might come up. For example, the decision to stick to the grocery list should be made before you get to the store, and the decision not to get on stage at a karaoke bar should be made before a single sip of anything stronger than water touches your lips.

    The same is true in running; there are many things that seem obvious that you need to tell yourself while they still seem obvious, rather than in the middle of a run.  This is particularly the case in any type of run that could impair your judgment – for me this includes long runs, very hot runs, and races, all of which put me in a situation where I am not thinking clearly.

    These include:

    Deciding not to pour water on my head during a hot run when I plan to clip my iPod to the back of my hat. “Duh!” right? But when it’s hot out there and I am desperate to cool down, I might forget that the iPod is there if I haven’t said to myself, “iPod! No water over the head.”

    Conversely, deciding not to clip my iPod to my hat when I know I might not be able to resist dumping water on my head.

    Deciding on a route before I leave for my long run. Once I am nicely warmed up and endorphins have begun to flood my brain, I risk deciding I could go forever or tackle the killer hill on 4th Line – either of which is very likely to result in a death-march home.

    Deciding on a nutrition plan. If I leave it up to how I feel, I know I won’t think to take in my carbs soon enough, and by the time I need them, I will feel lousy and won’t want to.  If I decide ahead of time to eat a gel at kilometre X, Y and Z, I know I will do it and won’t leave it to chance.

    Setting a firm race plan and sticking to it.  When I am on the start line, another great chemical impairs my judgment – adrenaline. Without a plan I risk suddenly drastically revising my race goal – and the very logical sentence “yikes, 30 seconds per kilometre is big!” can easily become “it’s only 30 seconds per kilometre!” when you’re doped on stress-hormones.

    Setting my mind to running all the way up the hill on County Road 29. I know I CAN run all the way up – I have done it loads of times.  But unless I decide I WILL before I get there, “I know I can! Let’s do this!” can easily become “I know I can, so I have nothing to prove today.”

    …and finally, deciding not to get on stage at a karaoke bar.  Ever.

    So how about you? What seemingly-common sense decisions do you need to remind yourself of before the various ups and downs of running impair your judgment?

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    A runner for just over four years, Karen has already completed a marathon, two half marathons and a variety of 5k and 10k races. She describes her first marathon - the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last September - as "a nightmare." However, she met a very interesting person in the process - a man named Sydney who was running his 152nd marathon! Although the race didn't go as well as planned for Karen or Sydney, he showed her that no matter how experienced a runner you are, you can still have a bad day. "Does that mean we shouldn't bother to prepare, or maybe just shouldn't bother at all? Of course not!" says Karen. "In the end, it is what we make it." We like her optimism!


    1. Preparing run-friendly food in advance, and having it ready to grab before/after a run. This instead of my usual, stuffing myself full of whatever, then looking out the window wistfully with the realization that it actually looks like perfect running weather, but if I run now…

    2. Oh good one. For me it would be to have the after-snack all planned out. Makes perfect sense to eat a healthy, protein/carb snack within half an hour to help with recovery – but upon arrival at the house, this may be replaced with “Ooo! Cinnamon buns!”

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