Culture

#JourneyWithSteph: A Spontaneous Master Planner

Steph thrives on spontaneity— with a bigger master plan, of course

going with flow[2]Highly competitive, self critical, feels a constant sense of urgency, does too many things at once, ambitious, aggressive, thrives on planning—these are a just a few of the characteristics describing Type A personalities. No, that’s not totally me. I roll with the punches, take what life throws at me, thrive on spontaneity—all with a bigger master plan of course.

How you can be spontaneous with a plan?

Like this: I’m VERY particular when it comes to planning my workouts around sea level and altitude stints. We live in Flagstaff, Arizona most of the year, where we train on smoky-brown dirt roads, trails winding through aspens and areas where bikers and runners often outnumber vehicles. Oh, and it’s all at 7,000 feet, so we experience a little bit of lung burn and heavy leg syndrome. Throughout the year, we plot out trips to San Diego to get in a few weeks at sea level. This is beneficial for several reasons: You recover better at sea level, sleep sounder, can tackle some serious speed sessions, and burn less fuel than at altitude. Living and training at altitude is highly stressful on the system, so doing it year-round would deprive us of maximum recovery. A few weeks ago, we plotted out the rest of our year to decide when to be home and when to travel to sea level. Our calendar quickly resembled a tic-tac-toe game. We’d leave early December for two weeks and return home for the second half of the month. I could do my fast-finish long run when we arrive, my tempo run four days later and so on. A master plan—muahaha! On second thought, let’s scrap that plan and just leave next week? “Type A spontaneity” all rolled into one!

Here’s the problem with being highly addicted to structure and plans: They backfire EVERY single time. Here I am, at sea level, and I haven’t run any of the workouts I so painstakingly manipulated into our schedule. Instead, I had a little setback and took a few unexpected days off. And you know what I’m doing about it? Drinking an extra iced caramel latte, and not freaking out. I’ve had enough experience in my life and running career to know that plans are essential—but they are not set in stone. Discovering I have Celiac Disease and dealing with injuries at the most inopportune times have helped me manage the “freak-out creature” we all have living inside us. You’ll most likely hit a few roadblocks, take two steps forward and take one step back before you get to where you want to go. So I’m not sweating it. I’m going with the flow, and, of course, working on my next master plan.