My email inbox is ruining my summer. Seriously.
For the past few weeks, I have been making an honest effort to stop planning for tomorrow and live in the moment. This is as difficult for me as it is for Donald Trump to make a weekly pilgrimage to Walmart.
See, I’m a planner. By the ripe old age of 11, I knew I would go to college and be a teacher. By my sophomore year in college, I knew I would move to Las Vegas to pursue my career. By the time I got engaged, I already knew where our first house would be, and the papers were signed before we said “I do.” It’s just how I do things.
Most of the time, my planning relieves a lot of stress. I know exactly what lies ahead for each day and where I’m expected to be. I don’t waste a lot of time figuring out what to do on the weekends. I can’t remember the last time we missed a dentist appointment or were late for a school program.
As far as my work goes, those members who faithfully take my classes each week know that if I expect them to come and work hard, they should expect me to come prepared. And I always do. My classes are planned at least a week or two in advance with music to match. Most of the time I’m able to practice these routines ahead. When class time rolls around, I am more than ready, and the members know it.
But there’s a downside to so much planning. When your calendar is booked months in advance, spontaneity goes out the window. There are few spur-of-the-moment bike rides or trips to the water park. For my daughters, downtime at home is at a minimum and so is time spent digging in the dirt with the neighborhood kids.
This bothers me.
My best memories are of activities born in the moment. My favorite day in Paris was a day when my husband and I woke up three hours later than planned. We scrapped the excursions and simply wandered around the Latin Quarter looking for good pastries and hot chocolate. We not only found those, but we also found a flower shop, and I walked away with a dozen gorgeous roses.
Our favorite family day in Disneyland was not the day we planned to meet with the princesses, but the day we got caught in a torrential downpour and had to run for cover back to the hotel to dry off. The rest of the day was spent at the park looking in shops and museums we’d never seen before.
Knowing this, I have planned not to plan. There are a few things that must be done, but we’ve enjoyed more time just being.
So, back to my inbox. What does that have to do with my summer of spontaneity? I have been inundated with emails letting me know that registration for everything running related under heaven and earth will be coming up in the next few weeks and if I don’t decide this very second if I’m in or out, I will be sitting on the sidelines of every race in 2012.
Yep, Boston registration is next month. Utah Valley Marathon registration opens in a few days. Ogden Marathon registration is right around the corner. The Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back is already filled to capacity. Good thing I registered months ago. I haven’t even finished three of my 2011 marathons, and I’ve actually already booked a hotel for the 2012 Boston Marathon. So much for spontaneity.
With more people running than ever before, marathons are selling out in record time, with new races popping up every month. Even in a down economy, people are more than happy to spend some big money to be a part of the race day celebration. The reasons why are best explored in another article, but the numbers of race participants are expanding at alarming speed.
That means I have to decide months, even years, in advance if I’m ready to tackle a particular race or I risk getting shut out all together.
Of course, a marathon is not something you jump into at the last minute. It requires months of training and preparation. But in the past, you could put in all the preparation, then a few weeks out, reassess your fitness and readiness and then register. Now you register first, train later.
As of right now, I’d love to sign up for everything. But will I feel this good next spring? Who knows. Do I sign up and take the chance of having to pull out due to injury and losing my registration fee? Or do I sit back and wait and risk missing out on what could be a potentially fabulous experience?
It’s a tough call to make. To think ahead to next spring while still focusing on my 2011 goals is a challenge.
But while I decide, I’m going to try to enjoy every minute of every race I’ve already committed to. I’m going to soak up every drop of sunshine while there is still sun to soak. I’m going to relish every snow-free morning while I can. I’m going to enjoy the simplicity of the season before I start piling on the layers and obsessively checking Saturday morning weather reports for potential blizzards or ice storms.
I don't know what next year will bring, but I can worry about that later. Right now, there is some lazy summer activity to attend to.
Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner who is trying to convince her husband that another tour of Paris bakeries is long overdue.