One of the most common questions I get on an almost daily basis is: what are you training for?
It’s a perfectly fine question and most of the time I have an answer for it, but right now I don’t. Ever since I finished Boston I haven’t really been sure where I wanted to go yet and even though I think I have it figured out, right now I’m enjoying not having a plan.
There is a lot of freedom in just going out each day and running. Sure, I still have a rough routine that I follow but most of the time I am deciding my run while I am driving out to the trail, or when I wake up in the morning. There’s no worrying about hard workouts ahead of time because even when I do a workout I figure it out 5-10 minutes before I start.
There are many benefits to having a plan and I for one find myself much more motivated when I’m working towards a specific goal, but I also think for your own sanity sometimes a period of no plan can go a long way.
Here’s why I enjoy a period of unstructured running especially post-race:
Allows Time for Recovery
After you’ve run your race it’s nice to have a good amount of time to let your body recover. By not having a specific plan it allows you more freedom to go out and just simply run easy. Run whatever your legs feel like that day and not feel pressured to put in a certain mileage or pace.
Following a training plan towards a goal is highly motivating but it can also be mentally exhausting at times. You continually think about what you need to do, when you need to do it, what paces you need to hit, etc. Having a period of unstructured running with no plan lets you just go out and do whatever your body feels like!
Mental burnout is a real thing and this is a great way to allow you to mentally reset and relax. It can go a long way in helping you be mentally strong during your next training cycle!
More Laid Back Schedule
When I was training for Boston (or any marathon) I am usually on a very strict schedule. I know when I need to do my run, how much time I have, when I need to fit in my long run, and how I need to fit it around my schedule. However, now instead of rushing when I get up each morning to be ready by the time E is ready for his first nap I can simply get up, eat some breakfast, enjoy my coffee and worry about running when it happens.
I still try to get out early but It’s not as rushed and if I have to cut my run short a little that’s okay. Sometimes it can be very good for you to have a more laid back schedule,
Try the Things You Usually Don’t Have Time For
This past week I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried a Crossfit class for the first time with my Mom, who attends them regularly. It isn’t something I would do on a regular basis but it was fun to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy some time with my Mom.
Use the time with a less strict running schedule to try new classes, add in more strength training, or do something that you’ve been putting off because you can’t fit it into your schedule! It’s good for your body to switch it up every now and again!
Stay up a little later, stay out a little longer
During training sometimes we sacrifice in other areas of our life. We are in bed super early on Friday nights to get up at early to get in a long run. Or we turn down a chance to go out because we know we have an early wake up call. Running takes sacrifice but during a period of running without a plan is the perfect time to say YES to all these things and more!
It’s nice to be able to schedule running around my schedule instead of trying to schedule everything around running for the time being.
Having a plan is a great thing and without a doubt it is what has helped me accomplish what I have thus far, but that doesn’t mean I spend every single day of the year on a schedule. If you’ve just finished a race give yourself some time of unstructured running. If you are feeling burnt out try a period of unstructured running. You’d be amazed how much it can help you to mentally reset and refocus!