For the last month or so I had been running to NO PLAN. Only running when I wanted to run. Running the sessions that I felt like and not what a program was dictating.
The main motivation behind this was to challenge myself. I have often thought that I am motivated and driven by a goal. With no goal in sight I wanted to try to still enjoy my running. The biggest driver of course was my desire to run through my next pregnancy and doing so would rely on being able to have a relaxed approach to running. So this was a great opportunity to master just that.
Plan or no plan I still love and need to run!
To be honest I expected the frequency of my running to drop without a training program but it didn’t. I still woke up most mornings wanting to run. I can’t believe how much running has become such a part of my normal day-to-day life. (Probably shouldn’t put “normal” and “my life” in the same sentence but you know what I mean)
I choose the easy route most days
Considering my love of speed work I thought I would be doing loads of speed sessions and loving the opportunity to try lots of fun and crazy things with no regard for recovery because it didn’t matter if I pulled up sore. Not so. Most mornings I just set out for an easy run. (slacker… I know!)
I didn’t feel any more or any less recovered for or from runs
I guess this may be because I was still running the same frequency. All the same I was certainly running at a lower intensity for the most part and I didn’t feel any better or worse for it.
I honestly expected the whole running to no plan to be an ordeal like the first time I tried to switch to decaf (I literally fell apart)!!! It was anything but an ordeal. Do I prefer to run to a program… YES! I love waking up and knowing what I have to do and that each run is one part of a bigger plan. I love seeing improvements from week to week in similar sessions and I love speed sessions but clearly I just have to be told to do them!!
That said I have been known to say “I can’t wait till this race is over and I can just go and run for fun”. I think that is normal though. Doesn’t every program hit an ugly spot? A spot when you may feel a slave to your training? BUT then you get to run that race and can’t wait to sign up for the next one because it’s just so much FUN!
So the verdict is BOTH are great and both have a place in my life.
For specific goals, races and times I will always lean on the guidance of structured program that is designed to help me optimise my training. As for all the running in between these goals and races I will enjoy just running because I know I can and because I know a plan does not hold me together or keep me putting on my sneakers each day – my love of running does that!
Do you ever hit an ugly spot in your training?
Do you prefer to be training for a goal or do you just love to run?