When Things Don't Go as Planned, What Do You Do?

By , SparkPeople Blogger

In a little over a 11 days I will be running in my first marathon--Chicago. A race I have been preparing to run since I first laced up my pair of running shoes back in the spring of 2006. For the past 15 weeks I have managed to run through the Texas heat, being chased by a Pit Bull, being dived bombed by a mockingbird, as well as running countless miles along the shores of White Rock Lake trying to pass the 2-3 hours in the most efficient way--until IT happened only 3 weeks out, my first 'real' set back.

Two weeks ago, after my Tuesday interval run my ankle became a tad 'grumpy' as my running coach used to call it. I really didn't think much of it since I have had these little aches and pains before and within a day I was back to my normal running routine. So I came home iced my ankle and stayed off my feet as much as I could until it was time to run again on Thursday. Oh boy, things where not good from the onset. I could barely run 1 mile. It wasn't painful, but it just didn't seem right. After watching Misty May-Traenor ruptured her Achilles tendon on Dancing with the Starslast year, my biggest fear is tearing that ol' Achilles.

Friday morning my ankle was quite stiff and panic was beginning to set in. Here I am only 3 weeks and 2 days away from living a dream that I have put so much blood, sweat and tears training for and now I felt as though the rug was being pulled right out from under me. I spent the better part of the morning using my foam roller and "The Stick" to help release my calf muscles. It seemed to work. I then iced it off and on for the better part of the day.

Saturday morning came and thankfully my ankle seemed better--not quite 100% but it was better. I set out to run my 20 miles and made it to mile 18 before I was pulling out all the mental fortitude my running pals, family and friends gave me the day before. And while I did finish, the last mile was not pretty. I was literally climbing up the hill thinking just get to 20 and you will be done, then all you have to is begin the taper for Chicago on October 11th.

I am grateful that this was just a little blip on the radar screen of what could have been worse. Tears were flowing on Friday when I felt as though my dream was slipping through my fingers like sand, but having my running pals and family to turn to was something I very seldom did before starting this journey years ago. In the past, I considered asking for help as a weakness on my part. But now I have grown to appreciate the support, encouragement and love from those who only want the best for me. I will never again underestimate the power of asking for help and guidance. I truly had everyone running with me on Saturday and I can tell you they will be running with me again in Chicago.

Yes, be prepared for the blog which will be coming soon.


What do you do when things don't quite go as planned? Do you throw in the towel or do you dig in your heels to take life head on? Do you allow your fellow Sparkers to carry you through?

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ROBBIEY 1/10/2020
Thanks Report
ANHELIC 8/6/2019
Thank you for this great information. Report
Enjoyed the blog. Report
You have to accept the things we can't change and move on, SparkFriends. Report
painful problems--foot--knees--sciatica--ma
ke me slow down--but I do try to continue in a slower fashion- with my exercise Report
Three more days, Nancy! You'll make it in Chicago. You'll do great. I'm so glad you made that 20 miles, you can do it again Sunday! You are a great inspiration, remember how many Sparkers you've never met in person are right there with you on Sunday - including me! You'll be in my prayers as you do your last minute prep and run this marathon. Report
Good Luck with the Chicago marathon. Someday I hope to do it. I have completed 16 1/2 marathons as a walker and am now training to do the Disney Marathon in Jan. I am very nervous. I have added some running but will be doing it mostly as a walker.
Have fun and enjoy the experience. Report
I think you are helping a lot of people face challenges. You will do great on the day of your race. I remember training for a 5 k race and arriving late and I ended up running a 10k race as a tribute to my mother. you never know what God has planned for us. trust that everything will go as it should. Report
I plan very little 'cause things lately have been changing constantly. Generally I pout for about 24 hours and then tell myself to stop pouting knowing that if I don't do whatever it is that I need to do or needs to be done no one else will do it. I'll pray for 100% healing of your ankle & for you Nancy in the marathon, what an inspiration. Report
What do you do when things don't quite go as planned?
I have a condition that makes it virtually impossible for me to plan how things will go. Of course, at my age, it's easy to look back on my life and see how far astray I have gone from my childhood (childish?) dreams. LOL!

Do you throw in the towel or do you dig in your heels to take life head on?
I just blogged about it today, about my fitness story and how I choose to live my life with a condition that gives me a perfect excuse not to do more.

Do you allow your fellow Sparkers to carry you through?
The few times I have put up a huddle saying I need support . . . I've received none. My "current' status was updated on Sunday telling all of my friends to ask me anything and so far nobody has asked me anything. Fortunately, I've been blessed with a fiance who is very loving and supportive, friends who are compassionate and encouraging, and I have learned a lot from my mother, who is a breast cancer survivor and my hero forever because she taught me more about love, grace, and forgiveness in my childhood than most people learn in a lifetime. Report
I find it difficult to get life together when it hands you a few curve balls. I feel great when I see results and when I don't, I wonder why I keep doing things. If it weren't for SP, I wouldn't have the support or the friends! Report
Nancy, what an inspiration you are. I am a fellow Texan and if you can run 20 in this summer heat you can achieve anything that comes at you. You have already achieved so much. Good luck on your marathon in Chicago....can't wait to hear that you took 1st place!!!

I had a set back of sorts last night; nothing that compares to your story. I had done so good with my calorie intake and back on the treadmill this week, then I started an evening class at our local college last night. So I had to eat a small snack before leaving home and knew that I would have to eat something again (at a late hour) when I got home. So what happens? I was starving, it was 9pm and I ate 2 servings of a cereal, 2 slices of whole grain wheat toast. As if that wasn't enough, I ate popcorn with M&M's in it.!# I was still within my calorie range for the day but at the high end of it.

We all have our daily struggles and I can't stress enough how much finding this wonderful website and all of the support and encouragement that comes with the SP friends that I have made in such a short time.

I wish you all the best in your upcoming marathon. Linda Report
I have a friend who is preparing for a half marathon in November and she is nursing a muscle issue - she is receiving treatment and plans to forge ahead - after all the hours she has put in preparing, there is no way she would ever not run! I am sure you feel the same. Best of luck to you! Report
Great article! Report
Like this Report
Nancy, you'll do great in Chicago, but I can feel your pain.
I've been trying to transition from the bike back to running and pushed it too hard too soon and have aggravated my right quad. It's starting to feel better, but today was a big bike ride with my riding partner (AMCG2002); last ride of the season. It was really hilly and the quad felt good, but not 100%. I've never had to walk a hill before today, but I knew for my best running effort I needed to take it easy.

It was hard not to let my PRIDE get in the way of what's needed for healing.
Spark Hugs,
Bill Report
Nancy, Chicago is going to be an absolutely amazing experience for you ! There is going to be sooo much energy all around you. Soak it up.

Now, onto the question, what do I do when things don't go as planned ? I do my best to go with the flow. Over the years, I've learned that life isn't very neat and doesn't work on schedules. Stuff (insert colorful colloquial word for offal here) happens. So, I do my best to adjust my plans accordingly. I have had injuries that have side lined me in past. It's no fun. It's a serious disappointment when you can't run in a race you've been training for, but there will be more races. Just because a person misses out one year doesn't mean that they can't come back for the next.

You've got this marathon in the bag, Nancy! It sounds like you handled that setback extremely well, despite the feelings of despair and panic you may have been experiencing at the time. I'm very glad there wasn't anything major wrong that would have caused you to have to delay your dream.

I saw an advertisement poster in the airport while I was flying home from the Spark Your Life Convention, and I had to write it down. It says: "It's not a setback. It's a test." This is a quote I'm going to have to keep in mind when I'm getting frustrated or discouraged. It's up to ME to make every experience, even the bad ones, have a positive outcome! Report
This blog hit home...I am going through the SAME thing right now. I have my first race ever..a half marathon..on October 18th. Two weeks ago my foot felt "off." I iced and stretched and rested. I ran 10 miles last weekend and couldn't put weight on it the day after. I attempted to run since but it is painful and it won't work itself out after a mile or so. I am SO frustrated. I have committed to running the race though, but I have come to terms with the fact that I may be walking most of it. Either way, I will finish a half marathon...which is definitely something worth celebrating! Report
Whatever happens, Nancy, good luck on your journey!

Your blog made me think about my own process for dealing with setbacks, as well as one I witnessed recently in another person's life. She had been a fine, well-known classical singer, when an accident in the early 1980's cost her her singing voice. A couple of weeks ago I played under her direction as one of the most challenging and exciting conductors I've worked with. She was admirable in every way, and she, like you, makes me honored to know of you.

Me, when I reach a serious set-back, I try to find another way to the goal. I've 'retooled' my life several times in response to things I couldn't 'fix,' and, on balance, it's been a great life on the whole. Not the one I'd originally thought I'd live, maybe, but no harm no foul--and very, very few regrets.

All the best on the run; thanks for giving me something to think about.

THANKS so much EVERYONE! To know that I have so many people running with me in the true SPARKSPIRIT will get me across the finish line! What a BLESSING!

Okay... you made me cry. I know how devastating that was for you- three and a half YEARS of planning, training, goal setting and readjusting, to come down to this. Nancy, I WISH you the VERY BEST in your run coming up. Hold on to what makes you strong and leave the rest behind... that is what I am trying to learn how to do. Too much excess negative baggage, is the destruction of us all. Hold on to your dream and... I'm looking forward to hearing all about that ***D*R*E*A*M*** coming true for you!! Ten days and counting!! :)
¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ *Annie Report
Nancy, I'm sorry for the blip you experienced, as well as the pain, but I am so inspired by all the work you've done to achieve your dream. Have a great run, and let us all know how it goes. I'm sure I'm not the only one here who is proud of you! Report
Have a great run! Report
May God give you supernatural strength to continue your journey. My prayers go up to you in Jesus name. Report
Good luck! Report
I am so sorry to hear of your pain. Since I'm dealing with a knee problem and I can't run right now I totaly understand how you must have felt. I will be cheering for you in the marathon. Run Girl Run. Report
About mid-way through training for my first HM earlier this year, I strained my left calf muscle. I didn't even KNOW you could do that! I was so upset! I had followed my training schedule right down to the very last detail and I was terrified I wasn't going to be able to complete my training and reach my goal of completing a HM. I started bawling and my wonderful husband gave me a big hug. He suggested I take a couple of days off from running. I said, "But the spreadsheet says I have to run on THESE days!" Thinking much more clearly than I, he looked at me and said, "Sweetie, put the spreadsheet DOWN." Ha ha! As I look back on that today, my words and thoughts were ridiculous, but at the time they were very real. I really thought I had to do everything by the book, perfectly, every step of the way, and anything less that that would be failure. Not being emotionally attached to my running like I was, my husband was able to give me a perspective I didn't have. I took a few days off and eased back into my schedule. I continued my training and I finished my first HM in 2:50:10. Nancy--we're expecting an AWESOME blog after Chicago! :-) Report
I too am training for the Chicago Marathon now only 10 days away! Last week I started feeling pains in my shins. Same as you, up until that point I had been going strong with just "normal" aches and pains from all the miles. This being my first marathon and something I too have been training for, for months I freaked out!!! I backed off the running and did the stationary bike and swam, but I still was thinking over and over again in the back of my mind, "What if I can't run?" "What if all these months of training and build up just get wasted?" My family was quick to snap me back to my senses and reminded me that if I back things off and take care of the pain now that come October 11th I should be all set to complete this challenge. That all the training I have already done will pull me through to the end. I was so focused on follow my training schedule that the thought of deviating from it was very difficult, but I'm finding that the backing off has helped my shins to feel better. Still not 100%, but I'll get there! 10 more days! Best of luck to you! Look forward to seeing you at the finish! Report
Your story reminds me of last May when I sat in the emergency room 1 day before my half being told by the doc "I don't think you're running tomorrow." Tears came to my eyes and I said "but, it's my first half... and I've been training since last fall." I felt my dream slipping away, particularly because I had been online in the waiting room on my blackberry trying to find another half in a couple of weeks and there weren't any! But he told me to go ahead and "let pain be my guide." Suddenly my time goals went out the window and I just had a goal of crossing the finish line -- walking, running, or crawling.
I am glad your ankle is feeling better! And good luck in Chicago -- I can't wait to hear about it.
I am flirting with the idea of a marathon myself... Report
My fellow spark friends have helped me out so many times. I love all the different perspectives they bring to my difficulties. Sometimes they think of things that I would NEVER have come up with, and I'm truly grateful.

Thank you for being one of them Nancy! Best wishes on your last few days of training - you know we'll be cheering you on virtually. Report
I got an error message, so not sure my last comment posted..... First of all,, I wish you success in your Chicago marathon b/c I don't wish luck as I don't believe in it! I feel certain you will achieve success, but also hope you pay attention to your aches and pains! Don't go overboard and injure yourself further..... God gave us pain for a reason and that is to let us know what our bodies can and can't do at a particualr time! Remember, there is always tomorrow and always another race if this one doesn't work out!
If you can't run the marathon as planned, yo you can always walk it! You will be the fastest walker there!

As many of you already know, I am blind and still recovering from a severe leg break! I set a goal to walk at least 1 mile every day starting Sept. 1. Arthritis in the ankle of the broken leg has cause a lot of swelling and pain lately! However I didn't give up on my goal! I simply slowed my walks down when necessary and kept going! I don't believe in giving up! I walk at least 1 mile every single day and sometimes they are slow miles and soemtimes stronger, faster miles! I usually walk more than a mile a day, but not nearly what you do each week! Yes, I call on my support systems on a regular basis! I call on the encouragement, support and motivation of Spark each and every day! I believe in my support systems and believe in yours too! While I feel confident you will b running and succeeding in this marathon, I also advise you to listen to that ankle and remember there is always another marathon! Dont injure yourself in a way that will cause lasting results when it can always be avoided! Report
First, I wish you best of success on your marathon! I don't wish luck as I really don't believe in it! I say if you can't run it due to ankle issues, then walk it! I struggle every day with leg pain due to my severe break over a year ago. I do what my body will allow and sometimes it is just a slower walk than usual! I set a goal to walk at least 1 mile every day in Sept. My ankle on the broken leg side decided to develop severe arthritis as a result of the injury and long lasting immobility and caused me alot of pain recently. But, I refused to give up my goal and walked a few slow miles when the pain was bad and often walked 5 miles instead of 1 each day..... Nothing compared to your runs I know, but quite a goal achieved for me who was in a wheelchair still back in January! I dont give up and I don't push too much either.... If my body says I need to take it all slower, then I do! My advice to everyone is to listen to your body! It lets you know if you need to slow things down and I believe we should pay attention and not over do it! God gave us pain for a reason and that is to let us gage what we can and can't do! There is always tomorrow.... There is always another marathon if your body is not letting you do this one! And, yes, I rely on the wonderful support, encouragement, motivation and all that my friends here on Spark and in life offer! I'm not scared to ask for help when needed! Again, I wish you success, but also advise you to pay attention to what that ankle is saying! If not Chicago, then another marathon! Don't ever give up! Report

I've learned that a lot of times the cruical thing is showing up when I have committed to do something. And if things aren't going as planned I usually try to make the best of it. It might not be the end of the world if I have to change my plans a bit. What I could improve on is to ask friends for help or delgate more - it's something I work on.
Nancy, your story is so inspiring, and I can't wait to read all about your race in Chicago! As you race I'll be running along in my mind and cheer you on! I imagine all of Spark People will lift you up when the going gets tough. Just think of all that power at your back! Hugs, Marit Report
Nancy good luck in Chicago. My oldest daughter will be there. Report
You can do it Nancy! We are all behind you! I'll be waiting to read your race report!! Report
The last time I was frustrated by a situation I had an eating fit--the next day I realized that it was really a temper tantrum in disguise--so at least I learned something. And believe me the situation was minor compared to the blog--my thoughts are with you. Report
i couldn't get my workout yesterday so i did it at 7:30 pm rather than miss...whatever it takes...marlizg Report
I have had the fear of putting a lot of work into something only to have it slip through my fingers. Similar to the fear of your ankle preventing you from running the marathon. The fear of the heartbreak of, not reaching the goal, has stopped me from even trying. I have since learned that the goal is important but is not the all in all. A lot is acheived and learned on the way to the goal and that can be just as important. Report
Props to you from a Texan who knows that heat firsthand! And good for you for leaning on your wonderful support network when the going got tough. Report

Heat in Texas? Wow! Yes, we have summertime heat in Texas. If you can run in the heat of summer, you can definitely conquer anything Chicago can dish out. Thank you for representing Texas and SparkPeople.

Go Team! Report
This is a wonderful story. It is always great to have someone to encourage you. I am looking forward to your Chicago story. Report
Nancy, After meeting and hearing you in Cincinnati, I hope you know that we will all be cheering you on in Chicago. You WILL have the biggest, noisiest fan club spread across the country. You are our Home Town Favorite! Report
You will do great! Lot's of luck! Report
You go girl.......It will one of the most exciting and awesome days in your life.....you set the bar high for yourself and it will be accomplished. I cant wait to see how it goes for you. tap tap tap waiting to hear tap tap tap Report
Congrats on pushing through, Nancy, and good luck on Marathon Day!

What do you do when things don't quite go as planned? Depends on what it is. Sometimes I am flexible and am able to change my plans to suit the issue. Sometimes I get frustrated and dig in my heels, and do it even though I know the outcome might not be good at all.

Do you allow your fellow Sparkers to carry you through? I don't have any specific Sparkers to fall back on, but I have a great support system in my husband, my sister, and my friends. I also use Spark in general (articles, reading others' blogs, etc.) to help carry me. Thanks, SPARKPEOPLE! Report
I was doing a quick run a month or so ago and got confronted by a skunk on the trail, tempted to say that fate was telling me to go back to bed, I turned around but then found another trail and did my run anyway. Report
Hi Nancy, fellow sparker, marathoner and White Rock lake runner. I loved this article and totally commend you for fighting the fight and not completely giving up. No matter what happens, you will finish Chicago. I can't wait to see your blog about it! I wish you all the luck in the world for your first marathon and look forward to your wonderful words of wisdom for my 2nd marathon in Feb. Report
Nancy, keep this thought in the back of your mind. When the road gets rough and you feel that you can't go in, picture me chasing after you with flip flops in hand ready for a good slapping! THAT will keep you going!!!! You have given me so much support in realizing my dreams, please allow me to offer you that nudge as you fulfill your dreams. I will be with you (flip flops in hand) all the way!!! Report
Best wishes to you for a successful marathon. Your blog was inspirational! Report