Respect. Accept. Adapt.

It’s a critical cycle in life.

Respect. Accept. Adapt.

It’s often more challenging than it appears on the surface.

Respect. Accept. Adapt.

It comes easier in some aspects—and some seasons—of life than others.

Respect. Accept. Adapt.

It’s become a necessity to repeat this cycle frequently in recent months.

Respect. Accept. Adapt.

Gradually it’s become a mantra for coping—and maybe even growing—in these strange and often uncertain times.

Respect. Accept. Adapt.

As runners, we are often admonished to ‘respect the plan’, meaning that we should trust that if we follow the workouts and mileages laid out, then we’ll making it to the finish line. There are all other manner of rules and states and circumstances to respect: fellow runners, traffic laws, the weather, the mountains, our own bodies and their capabilities. There is, or at least generally we’re expected to feel there is, an intrinsic value, quality, or authority that demands a certain level of deference. Respect helps us avoid placing our own ego at the center of the universe, at least some of the time.

Now if I respect these things, then I will accept certain limitations on my own plans or behavior. Because I respect my fellow runners, I accept that I will share the trail with them. Because I respect the power of nature, I understand the risks of running in the mountains, and I accept that I should carry extra gear and calories. Because I respect the training plan, I accept this week’s mileage or the long run buildup—I don’t slack off or overdo it because.

Sometimes, though, adaptation is required to maintain the balances of respect and acceptance. Sometimes we have to choose a priority and modify another element accordingly. If I accept that today the stress or lack of sleep are wearing me down, then I may have to change the training plan today—the plan that I’ve been told to, and generally do, respect.

The current pandemic has introduced a whole new set of considerations. Many (and I am hopeful most) people respect scientific expertise and the lives of fellow humans. We’ve accepted the restrictions set forward by our state or local governments or by the recommendations of public health experts. We adapt our behaviors whether that’s distancing when we can, covering our faces when we can’t, or avoiding crowded trails and parks.

Change is not always easy, though—especially emotionally. The first week I switched to long runs in the city because of COVID-19 restricitions, I was not happy. At mile 12, I was convinced I would never want to run another road marathon again. At mile 15, my mind was wandering and I drifted ever so slightly into the landscaping area in front of a building—that was filled with stones. I tripped, I couldn’t recover, and I literally faceplanted and skidded on the sidewalk. To add insult to injury, it was right in front of a cafe that was open for takeout so there were witnesses. I quickly picked myself up, waved that I was fine, and started back up the road.

A half block later I paused to assess the damage. I used an arm sleeve to stop the bleeding from the scrape on my nose. I was aching in a few places. I had 7 miles left—but did I? I started running again, weighing my options. Eventually I decided to do all the miles, but I was so done when I got back home. This did not bode well for the unknown number of weeks of long runs on the roads ahead.

By that next weekend, though, a switch flipped. I still missed that I wasn’t going to the trails, but that didn’t mean I had to have a miserable time on an urban run. It was during a run that this mantra crystallized: Respect. Accept. Adapt. I had already accepted the limitations. Now it was time to change the mindset. Sure, I couldn’t go to my favorite trails or explore the mountains, but I could explore the city I call home using my own two feet. I took a long hill, one that I’ve traversed many times, but this time, I went down the other side. And found an amazing view of the city I’d never seen before.


It was so striking that the next weekend I went back there on my long run to catch the panorama without the cloud cover. It did not disappoint.


The weeks continue to bring new information. New data, new analyses, new recommendations. Extensions of stay-at-home orders. News of race cancellations. But also reopening of some of our trails. The world is in a constant state of flux, even as it feels sometimes that the days are hard to distinguish. But, as runners (especially trail and ultra runners), we know how to keep moving forward even when the day isn’t necessarily going our way. Our resiliency is getting a workout.

Respect. Accept. Adapt.

We’ve got this, friends. 💜