“It’s ok. Goonies make mistakes. Just don’t make anymore.”
You’re going to screw up during a run. At some point, you’re going to make a mistake and need to recalibrate, adjust, or bring yourself back from the brink of disaster. It’s ok.
Plans are amazing and I make quite a few of them – from how I’ll clean my house on a day off to how I’ll handle my gel intake during a long run, I’ve got a plan for that. But in nearly every scenario the plan will inevitably break down and need adjusting. It’s not so difficult when my dogs come charging in covered in mud and make me refocus from laundry to mopping the floors. It is difficult when I’m twenty miles deep and realize I’m dehydrated and the cramps are setting in as my body begins to revolt.
Mistakes happen. What do you do next?
First, take a moment to be frustrated with yourself. Emotions aren’t the enemy. It’s how you handle them and how much control you give them that can be the problem. Kick a pine cone, shout ‘fuck you’ at a squirrel nearby, or hurl that pine cone you just kicked at said squirrel because it probably deserves it anyway (squirrels are evil and I stand by this statement).
Now that the frustration has passed, plan you’re way out of the hole. If it is dehydration, go easy. Don’t down a bunch of water at once and think that it will magically correct the deficit. Sip on your water continuously while taking a couple of gels over the next hour. Slow down your pace to avoid overexertion that would make your body pump out more sweat and keep you from regaining balance. And if you happen upon an aid station during this time, take a load off and chat for a while to let your body do what it does best in the background without you getting in the way.
Mistakes will change the course of your plan and will almost inevitably affect the outcome you had been anticipating. But adaptation is necessary. Carrying on through mistakes is how we learn.
And know it’s ok to screw up, because why the hell shouldn’t it be.
I’m betting money you’re not a professional runner because the vast majority of us aren’t. You do not get paid to be in perfect shape or to spend hours grueling over your training plan to try to find the weak spots.
Goonies make mistakes. And if trail runners aren’t grown-up Goonies chasing down One-Eyed Willie’s treasure, then I don’t know what the hell we are. However you choose to describe running – sport, activity, mud stomping fun – we are still adults playing in the woods while the rest of the world stares at us like we’re the weird kids your parents made you play with (hands up if you’re that kid… Our parent’s made Rory play with me).
Whatever happens, whatever tries to drag you down and destroy your plans, you can make it through. Because Goonies might make mistakes, but Goonies never say die!