I lead a life of lists: grocery lists, to-do lists, goal lists. 

When I got injured last year, I processed it through lists. I listed all the things the injury prevented me from doing, all the ways I could cross train, and all the new activities I suddenly had time for.

I find that organization partners with familiarity. And once we grow familiar with the challenges we face, they’re less daunting. An injury is way more manageable with a list of cross training exercises in hand. 

Paper planners, notepads, and rows of bullet points can interweave into the fabric of a pretty good security blanket. But what happens when the whole thing unravels?

I’ve made many life transitions the past year and a half. I left a professional running team, moved to a new state, and pursued two different career opportunities. The lists have less power than they used to, because what’s ahead of me is so uncertain.

Last week, I registered for a race two days before it happened. The race – which involves a 1000 ft climb up Grandfather Mountain over the last 2-ish miles – is simply known as The Bear. And bears don’t make lists. They don’t even know how to write.


So I threw my orderly ways out the window, said “Why not?”, and decided to try this new challenge. (Thank you to On ZAP Endurance for giving me the opportunity!)

Guys, chaos is rough.

I went into this race with a couple workouts under my belt. Weekly mileage of 80+. My brand new Team Wicked Bonkproof jersey. 

But I didn’t make my list. 

Whenever I head into a big race, I write a confidence list. I’ll include slam dunk workouts, training milestones, splits from previous runs that made me feel strong. The practice helps me recenter around an empowering mindset.

But this wasn’t The Goal Race. That race isn’t until November. And so I jumped into this with no plan except to climb.

My race was a sufferfest from start to finish. My mindset was defeatist. I watched two high school girls and a guy in a kilt zip by me.

I realized I’m not in a position to race just for fun. I want to be a competitor. I want to feel empowered and ready for anything.


As I return to serious training after a long hiatus, it’s time to embrace the chaos. And the best way for me to embrace it is to organize it.

As I get my running legs back underneath me, every workout and race is going to feel like a huge deal. And so I’ll have to tackle them the way I know best: with a list.

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