There is nothing like a tough week of training to put things into perspective. A tough week, not from the degree of how hard I’ve been working out . . . but rather the opposite. This past week’s failures has made me appreciate just how tough staying on schedule for the full twelve weeks of a program can be.

It doesn’t seem like a long period of time: Twelve weeks. Eighty-four days. Roughly three months. It is not even the full length of a college semester. Surely sticking to a plan and executing it properly and correctly isn’t that hard. It only takes some commitment and the ability to plan ahead.

And then reality hits. Summer vacations, fall and winter holidays, birthdays, food festivals, allergy seasons, hanging out with friends, and even long days at work will all try to break your routine, to interrupt it any way they can. Staying on track and meeting the set distances and time requirements gets tough. Not only that, but when you get yourself out there and try hard, sometimes it just doesn’t work out as well as you want or how you may have planned it.

The middle weeks of a training program are difficult. Mileage is getting packed on quicker than you feel comfortable with. It seems like you are always a mile or two farther than your comfortable with. You feel like your times are too slow or that, come race day, you’ll be booted off the race course for taking so long. It is even more daunting to think that you still aren’t even close to the total distance goal that you are after.

But then, when everything is looking down in the dumps and impossible, you remember something. You remember where you were at the start of week one. Maybe you hadn’t run a single mile since high school and your couch had a nice form-fitting design. Or maybe you only run a short mile or two and had dreams of pushing farther. Looking back, halfway though your training you can see how far you’ve come. Progress is made all the time. Even when your wheels are spinning, or you’re coming up short of what a schedule says, progress is still being made.

Ellie and I are approaching our week-eight long run of ten miles . . . after almost a full week of skipped training days. To say that we are a little anxious and a tad overwhelmed is an understatement. Deep down I know we are capable of doing it, capable of pushing through and going the distance (no pun intended!). And more importantly, afterward, when we finish that ten-mile run, we will stop (possibly collapse to the pavement) and reflect back, knowing we are almost there.