Last week at this time, I could barely coax myself out the door for a run. Yes, I have an upcoming half-marathon and yes, I've been perfectly healthy, but it was freezing outside! Literally! Since winters in the Pacific Northwest are usually quite mild, it was a shock to be dealing with temperatures in the teens and 20's for over a week. I was cold indoors, so convincing myself to go outside and run was virtually impossible. As a result, I had a week of fewer runs and much lower mileage. Did I give up on my goal of a half-marathon because my training plan was off? No way! Life has a way of throwing the unexpected at you and you can't quit everytime that happens or you will never achieve any goal.
How do you deal with the unexpected? First of all, don't think of those off-times as failures. They are merely speed bumps on the road towards your goal. Speed bumps don't cause you to turn your car around, do they? No! They slow you down, but you're still headed towards your destination. Keep moving forward!
Second, when you are setting your goal, be prepared for the unexpected. Give yourself a little "wiggle room." If you think you can achieve a goal in 6 weeks - great! But, perhaps you should allow yourself 8 - just in case.
My running plan includes several weeks of lower mileage for recovery. That was my "wiggle room." My easy week was supposed to be this week, but I decided to swap out my weeks. I got my rest week early and didn't lose any progress in the process. No need to feel like I've failed. I'm still moving ahead and I'll be ready for that half right on time!
Third, plan ahead for what you'll do if something throws off your progress. What will you do if you get sick, make poor food choices, or just aren't motivated for some reason? Will you quit, or will you pick up where you left off and keep moving forward? If you have an emergency plan in place, you are less likely to give up on your goal.
There will always be speed bumps along the route. Keep them in perspective. They aren't insurmountable. Decide now that you will continue to move ahead, no matter what life throws at you. Dealing with those speed bumps will make you even stronger in the end. You CAN achieve that goal!