What happens when I don't plan.

13 months ago I was standing at the start line of my 3rd ever half marathon. It was a pretty gross, cold, drizzly, can't get the cold outta your bones kinda day out on the NH Seacoast. Hampton, NH to be exact. Smuttynose was sponsoring this race, but the last thing on my mind was beer. Fast forward 13 months, approximately 390 days to the 10th of November. There I was, once again on the start line of yet another half marathon. This time in Portsmouth, NH. The day was wayy less rainy, not as cold. The sun was even trying to poke it's way through the clouds.

photo(1)And I was about to start my 7th half marathon. Ahem, did you hear that? My S E V E N T H half marathon. (On top of running Reach the Beach this September.)

Perhaps you  are now thinking something along the lines of "Holy s**tballs. That's insane!" Or maybe "Seven half marathons? Who does that?" Or perhaps "Girl, you are cray cray. Oh, and that's awesome."

I'm right there with you. Holy s**tballs is right! That is INSANE. And crazy. And awesome.

Had you told me back in October of last year  how much I would be running over the next year, I would have laughed you out of town. Right out of town. I'd probably be laughing so hard, I could bounce you out of the state (NH is small.) Or I'd at least pee in my pants.

Five half marathons + Reach the Beach? In 13 months? Woah. Someone drank the crazy Kool-Aid.

And it got me thinking. (Clearly with all this time running, I've had ample, ample time to think.)

In hindsight, here's what I realized. There was no plan. There was no intention. Nope. Never intended to run that much.

That part is funny because I'm a total planner. I thrive on working towards goals and reaching my lofty dreams. Like, I goal plan 24/7, during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sure, I had mini race training plans that were structured around eight to twelve weeks, in preparation for an upcoming race. But my race mindset was never a long term view, never more than two to three months out.

In all honesty, had I actually planned to run five half marathons and Reach the Beach, I'm fairly certain that I would have either a) skipped a race  b) done them all but wouldn't have had as much fun as I did and c) hate running.

Yup. I'm pretty sure I would hate running.

Seriously, I would have freaked out last fall, pep talking myself into running that much. Ugh. Even thinking about it now, makes my stomach turn.

This would have been me last September, thinking out loud, looking at myself in the mirror.

"All that running? In the cold? In January? In New Hampshire? When it gets dark at 2pm? When I'm tired? And how boring. I need to seriously revamp my running playlists because I do NOT have enough music to get me through all that training. Hell to the NO!"

Yet, I ran really, really well. In those 13 months, I knocked 10 minutes off of my previous best half marathon time. Ten minutes is like woah. That's hella awesome.  (Yup, I'm bragging, but I think I earned it.)

And I had a blast to boot - running with old and new friends, checking out new cities and trails, adding in speed work and strength training.

I woke up on Sundays, excited to go run for 60-120 minutes. FOR FUN. Hear me? I held my Sunday morning sacred for running. #SundayRunDay

So what's the lesson here? What's the takeaway? I'm really not writing this to brag about how well I run. I promise. Well, okay. Maybe a wee little bit.

Big, long term goals are okay. But don't let them overshadow your day to day living.

Sometimes you may just need to take things step by step by step. Take your eye off the big prize and focus on each step. You may even surprise yourself!

So I pose the question.

What can you do for yourself today? What can you do for yourself right now? Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month or in January.

Think big like signing up for that road race you've had your eye on and you know you can rock. Think small like screwing the afternoon Starbucks Venti Machiato and getting a freshly pressed green juice instead.

Think big like saying no to the fundraiser you were just asked to head up. Think small like turning off your television and going to bed half an hour sooner tonight.

Think big like taking a day off of work. Just for the hell of it. Think small like going for a walk at lunch. Without your iphone.

Just do something NOW. Today.

Let go of the larger plan. Release the idea of what you "should" be doing. Don't worry about if you are on track or not. Stop sweating if "this" gets you to where you want to go.

When you show up for yourself, each and everyday, you will get to where you want to go. I promise.

It's really funny what happens when you take your eyes off the prize and just be. When you just do something day in and day out.

Sometimes you just need to take your foot off the gas pedal and coast. But actually, you aren't coasting. You are just letting all the pieces of the puzzle come together as they should.

So, tell me. What are you going to do today? Screw the big picture and focus on today, tomorrow and next week.

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