My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right? - Charles M. Schulz
Over the past few months I have experienced a change when it comes to training...it doesn't feel like training anymore, it just feels like fun. There was a stretch when I was talking myself out of bed, tricking myself into putting on my shoes and if I did it fast enough, found myself out running before I could come up with an excuse.
Now I feel like a young puppy, straining against his leash, scratching at the door wondering when I can get out and for how long.
The mindset used to be that training was work; you go into each workout with a goal in mind and try to execute that goal. I am going to run for 5 miles at an 8 minute pace with pickups every 4 minutes, or today's run is 18 miles with 10 at marathon pace, then go home and log those numbers, compare them to last year's, see progress or decline, try to figure out why.
Not so much this summer, this summer has become all about just going, listening to the body and going by feel, and honestly enjoying every minute of it.
Now when I find myself heading out the door my thoughts are not on what else I wish I was doing, but rather on how excited I am to get to do what I am about to do. I invented the 'John-A-Thon' this summer, hopping on my bike and riding for around an hour or until I find some woods or a suitable hill, then running for an hour and riding back home. Sounds like a workout, but I can't think of a more fun way to spend an afternoon.
Some people spend a Saturday playing 18, I like to spend it running 18, heading into the woods with a backpack full of water and maybe some food and just going. There's no real rhyme or reason to my training this year, as there is not really a pattern to the races I have done, and that's fine with me. For the past few years, summer months have been spent dialed into training for specific races and goals. This year I didn't have a plan, knew there were races I wanted to do but no real pattern emerged as in years past so I just decided to do it all. Hasn't always been pretty, or fast but it sure has been fun and interesting.
At the beginning of the year with my race schedule in flux, I tossed away any sort of training plan I would normally follow and just decided to get miles when I could, rest when I needed to and see what sort of a workload I could take on. After an early season bout with hip flexor strains, and Achilles/knee issues I found a workload that fit and just went with it, since then the nagging injuries have gone away and the outlook went from 'have to do this' to 'get to do this'.
Now we'll see if it worked or not, in a week I head to Chile for the Patagonia International Ultramarathon, running 63K on September 28th, planning to follow that up with the Twin Cities Marathon the following Sunday and who knows what else I can tack on to round out the month of October.
Sometimes having no plan turns into the best plan...