So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Another Red Dress weekend in New Orleans. Another trip, the fourth, away from the hound and house. You can naturally expect when you visit the Crescent City in a month which does NOT have an "R" somewhere in it that the weather conditions are going to be very hot and very humid. This being the fourth time I had a fairly well laid-out plan of action. Or so I thought.

I had a very good idea of the packet pick-up/expo location, having gone that general direction during Jackson Day a couple of years back. However, the last thing I wanted to do was hoof it ten kilometers in 90-plus-degree way.

I then thought, 'this is not a problem. I can drive to the fairgrounds and back.' A very reasonable plan until I saw the parking arrangements our lodging providers instituted. We could pay 20 bucks-a-day for the privilege to park near our room, but not only was it not a certain thing we would have a parking spot should we remove our vehicle, but if double or triple parking was the order of the day we would have to leave our keys with the hotel staff in order to move the car.

We figured we would have sufficient time to meet our friends, take a taxi to packet pick-up, then do the pre-festivities. Of course, our planning operated on the assumption we could and would get our registration-related goodies in an efficient manner.

Oh, it is to laugh; we're talking hashers, Coach Mike.

So, the pre-festivities went right out the window with the bath-water. Ah, but that lost opportunity removed a potential obstacle to getting up at before the crack of dawn to run with the 5:20 Club. Rather than drink Natural Light or other hasher fare, Suzanne and I decided to take a taxi back to one of our favorite dining/imbibing establishments and introduce our friends Charley and Sheila to some area-brewed and locally-cooked goodness.

I made a command decision at dinner that I would miss out on 5:20; get up at 5, get a brief workout inside the fitness center, clean up and have (continental, which continent we were not yet certain...) breakfast in the lobby. To wake the next morning at 5 was no problem. On my way to the fitness center I decided to walk past where my car was parked.

If you grew up collecting Hot Wheels or Matchbox die-cast cars, storing them in those plastic-divided cases, you probably remember eventually having more cars than storage slots. Ah, but it was never a problem; we would gently wedge a row of cars perpendicularly between the two outer rows.

That's what it looked like in the parking garage. If I had been in a rush to get to, say, the airport, it would have taken a solid 20 minutes to get the cars which had been multiple-parked...just to get to where my car was. While frustrating, I looked at the situation as one which reinforced my need to NOT drive during the weekend. I know how to use a taxi, walk, or the RTA.

The weekend was filled with surprises which challenged previously-ingrained patterns of doing things. After the first thirty seconds of grousing we quickly adapted, made command decisions and marched smartly forward into the fog.

How many times have we done the same routine over and over? My parents know by now the easiest evening to contact me is Monday or Friday; we're always doing some track workout on Tuesday or Thursday, long-ish runs on Wednesday or Sunday, a road trip or a race on Saturday. After a while not only do I start asking myself the "what am I going to assign tonight?" question, but my athletes start chanting the last set before I get it out of my mouth.

Gosh, have I become THAT pattern-based?

I know it takes as little as 21 days of doing something...especially an unhealthy thing...before the behavior becomes a habit. I'm not saying we need to break up our routines for the sake of breaking routines. But the "ho-hum, another darned (blank) workout" feeling should probably be a subtle hint.

As a coach, I have a little less wiggle space than the average self-coached runner; run a few unscheduled hill repeats or a road run here and there as long as the athletes are fit enough to adapt to the sudden change. Otherwise, it's change up the intensities on the non-track nights for me.

A little variation in terrain, intensity, duration, time of day, or even running partner/s can help stave off the "ho-hum." And it's less drastic than running in a red dress.

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