Heading into a new year is a great time to begin mapping out a training calendar. This is the time of year many begin thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and start thinking seriously about getting fit for the upcoming race season or starting a healthy habit.
There are so many Bible verses relevant to planning.
Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
I love these verses because it calls Christians to action. We are called to make plans and these plans are made using our hearts and minds. Therefore, it is critical to align our hearts and minds with Christ. How do we do this? We spend time with Him through the study of His word – the Bible. We praise and worship Him. We spend time praying and seeking His will for our lives.
Psalm 119:11 – I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 73:26 – My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
1 Chronicles 16:11 – Seek the Lord and his strength; seek His presence continually
Thus, as we daily align our hearts and mind with Christ and ask Him daily to teach us His ways, we also make our plans, knowing that ultimately, God will direct our steps. This applies to all areas of our lives, even when planning our hobbies. For those who have been blessed with the ability to participate in endurance sports, it is my prayer that those gifts and talents are always used to honor Him and point others to salvation through Christ Jesus.
In 2020 we made our training calendar, but God directed our steps in a completely different direction.
Here was my 2020 training year in a nutshell:
I had qualified for and met the time cut off to run the 2020 Boston Marathon on April 20, 2020. My plan for this race was to take it easy as kind of a “victory lap” for all the hard training it took to meet that goal. My “A race” would be the Chicago Marathon in October, where the plan would be a serious training block for a marathon personal best attempt. I had also qualified to run the New York City Marathon and planned to run it as another fun “easy pace” marathon. Ultimately, I planned to complete three of the six World Major Marathons in 2020.
In early February, I began hearing grumblings in some of the marathon social media groups that the Tokyo Marathon may be cancelled. This was the first I had heard about the “coronavirus.” On February 17, the Tokyo Marathon was officially cancelled. This set the stage for a year in which almost all marathons, including all the world majors were cancelled.
I don’t know why this virus took ahold in our world, but I do trust that God loves and cares for us in all circumstances. When trauma such as this ensues, it’s easy to take on the attitude of “what’s the point?” Why even attempt to plan for 2021? Because of this promise in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE for the future.”
While all my race plans were sidelined in 2020, I still count my blessings. Cancelled races are so insignificant compared to the hardships many faced. Some lost jobs and some lost loves ones. I continue to pray that the Lord will heal our land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.
Therefore, we continue to pray, we continue to align our hearts and minds with Christ, and we continue to make our plans.
This is the time of year athletes start reaching out to us, both those we coach, and others who may be seeking a coach. For the ones we coach, it’s a pretty easy process to help them lay out a training and racing schedule for the year. For athletes who are reaching out to us for the first time, it is a little more difficult, as we must first compile some historical information to determine current fitness levels, life happenings, and goals. For example, a potential client will email and ask how many weeks we would need to prepare him for a marathon or a half Ironman. This is heavily dependent on current training and fitness levels, so the answer will be unique to each athlete.
For those we coach, here is a simplified checklist we navigate as we help them plan a training and racing calendar:
Based on this information, we are able to map out the ideal times in the year for each event and create training block to prepare the athlete for those events. One year I scheduled my “A race” as a marathon in late July. I failed to take into consideration how that would affect my family vacation out west to visit many of the National Parks in late June. My heaviest training weeks coincided with this vacation, which created unnecessary stress. Lesson learned!
It’s nice to begin planning the upcoming year in late December, as so many people are focused on big goals this time of year, but we go through a similar process with our athletes any time they join our team. Some athletes that join our team are already registered for a race or races and we work with that. Others are so new to endurance sports, that thinking about planning a year in advance is overwhelming, so we take a similar process in much smaller increments. As an example, we onboarded an athlete in August that is BRAND NEW to running. His first goal was to run 5 miles without taking a walk break. We are super excited that he competed that goal this week! This goal will be celebrated as much as an athlete whose goal was to qualify for Kona. All athletes are important and all goals worth celebrating! We are in the process now of helping this athlete set his next big goal! Who knows, one day his goal may include competing in an organized event, but right now, he is just interested in milestones during personal training sessions.
It’s important to settle in each athlete’s mind what the upcoming year will look like, as it prevents a bunch of spontaneous and often poor decisions. It’s easy to jump in a race because it sounds fun, a buddy is doing it, or the medal just looks awesome. While there needs to be some amount of flexibility with any plan, it’s also important to register only for events that will support your overall fitness goals and fit well within your family and work life.
And again, be assured that the best laid plans will require flexibility, as monkey wrenches will be thrown into the mix. My best example of this was way back in 2016. In January of 2016, my friend Kelly and I registered for the Augusta Half Ironman. I had raced this before and was looking forward to racing it again. September 24, 2016 was solidly on the calendar as my “A-race” for the year. In February, my son proposed to my now daughter-in-law. They decided on a fall wedding, and I didn’t have the heart to ask them to please avoid September 24. This past September 24, 2020, Jacob and Shelby celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary. Needless to say, I skipped my “A race” and happily celebrated with them on their wedding day! Mother-in-law of the year!
If you’d like help setting and reaching your goals, join our team! We’d love to partner with you!