Saturday, February 11, 2012

Essence of a Bad Success

A man and his dog are in the midst of a 5.5 mile tempo run. It is cold and dark outside. Winter. Morning. The schedule calls for a tempo pace, which is roughly 7:30 per mile. The run is not going well. At the 3.0 mile mark, the man glances at his Garmin. His average pace is 7:35 and he is slowing.

They near a crossroads. The dog looks up at the man. They have been here before. The dog knows that a decision is going to be made. There are 4 possible options:
1. Go right. This is the planned route. However, there is a large hill that will cause the pace to drop even slower than the goal.
2. Go straight ahead. This route is the same distance as option 1. However, it skirts the hill keeping the run nearly flat.
3. Go left. This is the short cut back home cutting the distance by about a 1/2 mile.
4. Turn around and go back. This is the only option not being considered
The dog has a skill that allows him to keep eye contact with the man while running in a completely straight line and avoiding obstacles. The man is often jealous of this skill. Not today. He hardly notices the talent being fulfilled. His brain is pondering the options. Emotions are strong. Option 1 will guarantee failure for the goal pace. That hill is pretty tough. Pain and suffering lie on that hill. Option 2 will be the same distance but faster. It provides equal distance and more speed with less work. Option 3 will put an end to this abysmal run sooner. Appealing.  But it will cut the distance. At this stage, it's not out of the question.

Upon hitting the crossroads, the man turns right with the dog on his heel. He plods up the hill, the agony of the effort is clear on every step. The way down isn't much better. The cold temperatures have frosted the concrete with enough ice making the the descent more cautious than aggressive.

At the completion of his run, the man stops recording data on his Garmin and, as usual, checks his averages. Average pace for the run 7:47. Not bad if you are an airplane. Not good if you are in the midst of a 7:30 tempo run. However, the man smiles with a satisfaction well earned. One bad run will not make or break the training. He giggles at the Yoda reference bouncing around in his mind. The man knows that if he gives in to the short or easy path, forever will it dominate his training destiny. This is the essence of his training season (hopefully).

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