No Need for Speed: January 2006
Starting out without starting over
You never know where some tidbit of wisdom is going to drop into your life. Often some of the most salient advice comes when you least expect it. In this case it was while getting a haircut.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. As a kid, when I went to the barber [and he was a barber, period] it was a matter of sitting in a chair while this giant man with clippers ground away at my hair. It was second only to going to the dentist as a fear-filled, helpless experience.
This was made more so by the fact that my Brill-O Pad hair didn’t lend itself to the styles of the 50’s and 60’s. There wasn’t enough crew wax on the planet to make my hair look smooth and straight.
As I got older I usually went from the extremes of cutting my hair very short or letting get very long. Neither looked good, but at least I wasn’t investing much energy in trying.
There are no barbers anymore, at least not near me, so I’ve found myself going to hairstylist – against my better judgment. I’m sure that these are wonderful people but they invariably decide that my hair SHOULD look a certain way and then I spend one horribly embarrassing week waiting for my hair to return to normal.
Enter Jeffrey. I explained to Jeffrey the first time I sat in his chair that I really didn’t want a fancy hairstyle. I just wanted something that I could shampoo and leave alone.
No problem, he said. But first we’d have to correct and redirect.
It was BRILLIANT. Correct and redirect. How often in my running life have I had to stop what I was doing and correct and redirect. My mind was going a hundred miles an hour. I almost forget what he was doing to my hair.
I’ve gotten deep into a marathon-training program and then life throws a series of wrenches into the plan. I miss a long run. I miss a speed workout. I miss a few days for one reason or another.
In the old days I would have just tried to push through, to carry on with the program no matter what. And as often as not I would end up injured and discouraged. No more.
Now, I correct and redirect. I can’t just ignore the missed days. I can’t just ignore the fact that my running doesn’t always control my life. Sometimes, my life controls my running.
Correct and redirect. Change the plan. Make the adjustment. Move things around. Alter the schedule. How easy can that be?
I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to learn so simple a lesson. I’m not sure why I’ve been convinced that a plan that makes sense today is going to make sense six months from now. But I have been. And I’ve been wrong in many cases.
There is a balance, to be sure. There is some point of persistence, or dedication, discipline that you need to achieve your running goals. You need to be able to work through the discouragement and setbacks that we all encounter.
But you also have to be able to be honest with yourself. You have to be able to admit that the plan isn’t working and that no amount of will power or tenacity is going to make it work. And you have to be able to acknowledge that sometimes even the best plan is the wrong plan.
And when that happens, remember Jeffrey’s words of wisdom. With your hair, your running, or your life, sometimes the first step to success is to correct and redirect.
Waddle on, friends.