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IMPULSIVENESS: a welcome addition to exercise?

I’m one of the most impulsive people you’ll meet. A friend suggests a holiday in the next week? Sign me up! I hear about a great movie on that night? I’m there! I decide to move to Santiago, Chile, for four months? All in a day’s work… I just don’t really plan things, and that has helped me to live my life as fully as possible, especially here in Santiago where my work is easily completed on-the-go and in various chunks throughout the day.

However, there is one part of my life I’ve never really been impulsive with: my exercise.

I have a plan, I stick to my plan, I complete the plan. T.o. t.h.e. l.e.t.t.e.r.

Sure, sometimes I have to switch things around on days because of other engagements, sometimes I have to skip a workout because I feel ill. But these are always half-planned in advance, and before I’ve fully decided, I will have several “contingency plans” backing up in my head.

Take last week as an example (if you haven’t read my weekly round-up, you can catch up here). Before I’d even found out my flight times or what my schedule would be, I’d already done research on running routes around the area, and the possibilities of using a gym at the hotel. My eventual workout schedule was slightly out from the original plan, but it was pretty much exactly what I’d planned in my head once I found out about my travelling!

And then yesterday, for some unknown reason, I did a couple of very impulsive things.

  • I joined a running group.
  • I signed up for a half-marathon ON SUNDAY.

In the past, I’d been completely on-the-fence about running with a group. I tried once at university, but everyone was super-fast and super-skinny and super-competitive and it really wasn’t the sort of atmosphere I was looking for. It really put me off!

Before I arrived in Chile, I had done a lot of research on running clubs, thinking that it might be a good way to make friends in the city. But every time I considered it, I backed off – what if they were too fast? What if I didn’t enjoy it? What if I got bored? Once I started my marathon training, another question got added – how does this fit into my schedule?

But yesterday, I just decided to GO FOR IT. There is a free group which meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays in a park about 30 minutes bus ride from me. I hopped on that bus an hour before training started, and just went! (of course, impulsive me came back to bite me on the ass because I hadn’t accounted for traffic, and had to get off the bus 0.75miles before my stop and run to the park because I was late…).

And I loved it. Really really loved it. I had 5 miles scheduled, at easy pace. And you know what? I did 6.5 miles, at 8:30 pace… Still conversational, but slightly harder by the end when I was going uphill! So yeah, maybe not a totally “easy” run. But I was running with another marathoner, a guy training for the Buenos Aires marathon in 2 weeks time. And it was interesting to hear about his journey as a runner, and hear more about the club!

So, for the first time, I didn’t stick to plan. Not because of some planned difference, but because I impulsively decided to carry on, to continue running with these people. And I feel stronger because of it, I had more fun than I would have had running those miles solo.

Now, onto my other, perhaps more major, decision. Basically, most of these runners were in their last week tapering for a marathon/half-marathon event along the Chilean coast. And everyone I spoke to asked me the same question: are you racing? Why aren’t you racing?

I had my answer ready: Because I have a plan. I have a marathon plan. My plan says to run 16 miles on Sunday, easy pace. My plan doesn’t say to run a half marathon.

But then, I kept repeating this to person after person and feeling how hollow those words were. Instead of running solo, I could be running in a crowd, along the sea front, in one of the prettiest and most popular routes in the whole of Chile. I’m here to embrace life, to see the country and not just do what I would be doing back in England.

My mind whirred, and maybe it was the buzz of having a great workout, with some great people, but the minute I got home, I signed up!

My mind keeps on whirring: I haven’t tapered, I haven’t even got a plan for an expected time, I need to book a hostel, I need to plan for food, I need to get to the town somehow!! Oh and I will have to fit in an extra 5km at some point. Help.

I haven’t run a half-marathon since March, when I ran a 1:52:18 race, so average pace of 8:32. I have no idea if that’s possible for me this time. I hope so? I did my latest long run of 15 miles at 8:45 average pace, and I thought I was going relatively slowly at that point. Or it was a very comfortable pace at least! But I haven’t strategized (I don’t even know how to strategize for a race!) and I don’t know what I’ll end up running it in.

This week, I’m going to modify my plan slightly so that I get my miles in, and still have a slight mini-taper for the half-marathon. The marathon training schedule has me running 39 miles this week, across 5 workouts: 5 miles, 7 miles, 6 miles, 5 miles, 16 miles.

Instead, I’m going to change it up a little bit with some dual running days: 6.5 miles Monday, 9.5 miles Wednesday (over two runs: a hill ascent in the morning, and a sloooow run with the group in the evening), 5 miles in the gym on Thursday, 2 miles slowly Friday morning. Then the race Sunday, and 3 miles shake-out jog in the evening!

Maybe I will think differently if Sunday goes terribly, but I think I’ve broken through a bit of a barrier. I can have fun with my training schedule, even fitting in some little races I hadn’t exactly planned for… And I can embrace the impulsivity that I have in the rest of my life, trying to bring it more into my running schedule. Because, why not? Life is too short to plan everything.

Are you a planner or do you just do everything on impulse? Have you ever signed up to a race in the week before and have no expectations or hopes?

I’d love to hear from you so comment below, or send me a DM on Instagram (primallyimperfect). I hope your week is going well!

One thought on “IMPULSIVENESS: a welcome addition to exercise?

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