I like structure. I like schedules (particularly if they involve glitter gel pens in a plethora of colors). I like having an idea of what is coming next. I find a great deal of comfort in instruction and direction, particularly when others are involved or I’m being graded, because I like to do things right the first time. I HATED science lab in school–I always had anxiety of doing things wrong, etc. I adore when I get to work out with a trainer, go to a yoga class, and finding the motivation of getting all competitive in a group class.
But here’s the thing. I don’t like being told what to do. Der-hunh? How does that make sense? Can’t say that it does make sense. #sorrynotsorry
So let’s get a nice little metaphor working for you:
Buildings need strong foundation, strong structure. The cladding and superficial stuff can be interchanged, not always easily-peasily, but it’s not such an ordeal. Badly laid foundations, however, spell disaster. I require strong foundations. I will pester you with question (though I may or may not read the manual…) until I know exactly how things should be. And then I will make up my own version. I make it my own, make it work for me/make it how I think it will work for me. Often I find out I made a mistake somewhere along the way, but I learn and move on, either to fix it for that time, or to start again next time.
Now let’s apply that to training and life.
I do my research, people. I look up things all the time. But, being the know-it-all-McFly that I am, and also selectively lazy, I work what I’ve got into that plan. If someone is standing over me, you better BELIEVE I will do EXACTLY as I am supposed to. But, as I am mostly on my own, I like to tinker. Thus why I am a better cook than a baker (which requires a great deal more precision), but I insist upon proper knife skills, terms, and such. I play with my seasonings, a bit here, a bit there, but I like to know that I am using a certain amount of oats, etc. Precise foundation, improvise details.
I know that my body doesn’t like when I over-run. It has told me, and quite clearly. Back-to-back running, especially now that I am not getting as solid a core and lower body foundation as I used to from riding, is tough on me mentally and also on my tendons. And I don’t really care for speed work. Sorry! Tell me I have to run 20 miles, and I will prep for it and rock it and push myself. But tell me to run 20 mi slow, or alternatively, do repeats at the track, and susienosohappy. I like to hit a pace and crank. I’ve learned the hard way that this is also not good for you. That is a story to come.
In fact, I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, had some injuries, had to take a step back quite a few times. And I’ve made a lot of apologies.
But here is the thing, and the crux of all of this rambling:
Seek advice, guidance, and instruction constantly when you are creating the foundations for ANYTHING. Running, yoga, strength training, nutrition, finances, driving, cooking, waltzing, tying your shoes, parsing or declining verbs and nouns in another language.
Then MAKE IT YOURS. We are all different–we share traits and personality characteristics, but they combine in a way that makes us uniquely US. Nothing has taught me more about this than my disease and my running. I have to make decisions every day that have direct effects on my health, short and long term. But, because I have such a strong foundational knowledge, even when I misfire, and cause myself some sort of harm, I can typically recover quite quickly. And I know for next time, even if I make the same, bad, decision (damn, you, cookie dough). Freak accidents happen, but aside from that, if you have a strong foundation, you can always recover from superficial wounds. And, to boot, once you learn the hard way, you rarely take it for granted.
Grab some putty, a spatula, sandpaper, and some paint, and the ding is gone. But if you have bad plumbing, or insufficient structure, you are going to find yourself always playing catch-up, always fixing things, and, most difficult of all, you will have to rebuild foundational behaviors while the house is already up.
Seek guidance, but do you.
Talk to me, Goose:
Do you follow to the T? Do you shirk instruction? How has it helped or hurt you?