Friday, January 13, 2012

Planning For Success

"A goal
without a plan
is just
a wish."

attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of Le Petit Prince/The Little Prince

As I drove home today I thought about this quote and how it applies to my life and I realized that I have always been a planner and a list maker.  When something is important to me, I do research, I set goals and then I sit  and write down the steps I need to do take to reach those goals.

My former job as a computer programmer and systems analyst suited me so well.  Everything I did on a daily basis required logic and planning.  I took large problems and broke them down into smaller, more manageable ones, and then determined the steps to take to solve them.  Programming was simply translation of the statements into a different language.

I have pretty much handled my personal goals the same way. 

For instance, when I decided that I wanted to run my first half marathon sometime this year, I did some research about how long it might take to train to accomplish this distance, and that helped me choose a race to enter.  I knew that I would not be able to run a January half marathon if I was not prepared to start training before January 1st.

Then I solicited some help with making a detailed training schedule to complete the distance - and I left room for alternative run days if the weather hinders my plans.  I have designated Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays as running days... but if the weather looks bad for Saturday's long run, I might choose to do it Friday or even Sunday.

And I am working on other training elements such as pre-race meals, during race fuel, clothing, hydration, and recovery... and  also planning a variety of running routes to avoid boredom.

I am keeping a journal and making notes about what I am eating and wearing and weather and moods.

As it gets closer to race day, I will be making a plan of what I will need to do the day, evening, and morning beforehand.  And you can bet I will be looking for advice from experienced racers in putting that together.

Big problems - far off goals - can seem so intimidating! But break them down, articulate steps to solve them... and they become attainable! Achieving small successes along the way also gives me confidence to believe that I will reach the desired end.

I think this planning is important. I know that if I just went out and tried to run 13.1 miles I would fail miserably.  I could walk that far without any trouble, but I wouldn't run even most of it, at this point.

I know plans go awry; things happen; life gets in the way.  Believe me, I know!  But if I don't at least start out with a plan, how will I ever have a chance to accomplish my goals?  I might just as well make a wish!

How do you feel about planning?

Do you make detailed plans for your upcoming races? 

If you are an experienced racer, did you get more casual about planning as you gained racing experience or more serious?


  1. The more races I do, the less I plan because I know pretty much what to expect. I know what works the morning of and what I will feel like during for the most part. However, I am not the biggest planner in the first place. Whatever works for you is the best way to go. Definitely smart to make a plan for your first half:) so excited for you!

  2. you are in weight watchers??? Elle you hardly need it. You are healthy and fit. but I bet the meetings are helpful, they sound like it. A damn, it sounds like I've been wishing my whole life !I'lve gotta plan.....

    1% left on my battery....comment more later xo

  3. I love this book.
    I have several copies of it, in French and in English for my sons and I have other items with Le Petit Prince.

    I am a planner. For everything. For my races I plan more as I get more experience.

  4. I'm a planner for sure. I sometimes become a little to addicted to the "plan" though, and I don't think that's good. I sometimes have to remind myself that good plans allow for variations and flexibility...

    Smart to plan for your first half! Can't wait to read all about it!

  5. Thanks for reminding me about that awesome book! Years ago a friend of mine had me hunt a version down so I could read it. If only I still had the copy!

    I am definitely a planner and love solving problems. Learning that you have computer programming and analytical skills explains why I feel I can connect to you....we would get along great!

    Keep up the good planning and no, I never stop planning, evaluating, adjusting, reevaluating, and on. It is a never ending cycle of improvement!

  6. I make plans - not particularly ambitious ones - buy I rarely manage to stick to them . For example - I was so tired yesterday that I barely struggled through work Nd, instead of my short planned run, I just had a 2 hour nap, got up for dinner and went back to bed! I find it very, very difficult to know how I will be feeling and how much extra work I will have on a particular day!

  7. this is a GREAT post. I struggle with planning. I LOVE it and benefit from it so much. But then I hardly follow any of the plans I make which is a definite struggle for me. Its like sometimes I get scared and lose my trust in the plan. Definitely something I would like to work on this year!

    I love how you have been gathering all this knowledge! i cant wait to see how everything plays out for you and am excited to keep reading about what you have learned along the way!

  8. I am definitely a planner. In response to your question, NO--the more I race, the more meticulous I get about the planning process for the race, because I see what a huge difference it makes.

  9. You don't need weight watchers...unless you just enjoy the company! You are a healthy, strong woman :)

    I think I've over planned for today's race...I'm a nervous wreck! I guess the more races that we do, the better and more confident and maybe less planning? Not sure. You'll have a great race, no matter what! You'll rock it!

  10. I think you have a really smart approach going. It takes a series of steps to get to the finish line and having them spelled out is the way to get it done.

    I've been at it for almost 15 years now, so yes, I am more casual. With marathons I'll sit down with the calendar and right out all my long runs, but beyond that, I am fairly casual w/ my plans--I go more week to week but can envision the overall plan in my head. Just lots of practice, is all!

  11. Your training/racing/running approach is so admirable! I love that you are willing and able to soak up as much information as you can - that is how I learned a lot of what I know now! There are so many trains of thought and opinions out there, I always try to take something useful away from every runner/walker/athlete I talk to.

    Unfortunately, this last year I got away from planning my races (runs, strength training, eating/fueling right) and I want to get back on track. YOU are inspiring me to do so! I don't plan to race a lot this year, but I want to get back into planning (and journaling about my running/food) and maybe PR something, someday!

    Thank you for your thoughts!


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