As spring is in the air, thoughts turn to the racing season and my on going struggle of whether to follow a training plan or not. I have run a lot of races and I confess that I have only followed a training plan for one of them. I know many people follow a plan and I have friends who stick rigidly to their plan, no matter what. I found that having a strict schedule did not work for me. I started well and knew what I had to do each day, but half way in, I started to lose motivation. It became a case of having to run a certain distance at a particular pace. Race day was fine but such a relief that it was over. Afterwards, I completely lost my interest in running. I did not want to run and couldn’t understand what had happened to me. I thought about what it was I loved about running; how I love to explore different routes, how I love being outside, how it makes me feel happy and free and realised that for me, following the training plan had taken away the joy of running and turned it into a chore. It took a few months, but by running when and how I felt like it, without any agenda, I eventually began to look forward to running again.
Now here we are again at the start of another race season, friends are again following strict plans and I am again wondering if I should too. They tell me their pace and ask me mine. I have no idea how fast (or slow) I run. Yes, I would like to be faster and I am sure if I trained hard, I could be, but will I lose motivation again? It is often difficult not to compare yourself with others but my advice is to do what works for you. You may be like my friends, and do well with a strict schedule, or you may be like me and find that demotivating.
I have a 50K race towards the end of summer and although I have run that distance before, this will be on challenging terrain. My goal is to finish this race upright and within the cut off time and so yes, I will train, but without following a strict plan. My training will be long runs/hikes in the mountains with friends, lots of climbing up and running down hills, core strengthening exercises and maybe a bit of yoga added in. I will let you know in September if this strategy worked!