The Benefits of Running Without a Goal

After the Race 13.1 (almost) half marathon, I’ve enjoyed running without a set training program. I loved the plan I followed, but it was really challenging (and time consuming!), so it’s nice to have a little break. I’m planning to run the Mistletoe Half Marathon in Winston-Salem the first weekend in December but given my upcoming travel schedule, I’m not going to stress myself out trying to follow a strict training regimen. And I’ve been surprised by what my body wants to run when I let it dictate the day. And as a result this weekend was filled with some great, but not terribly taxing runs.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to low 30s and pouring rain. Maizey and I were not pleased. She refused to go potty and I was bummed out about being forced to he treadmill. IMG_9082

On treadmill runs, I always walk for the first minute while I get my headphones and music all set and then gradually ease into my run. I usually start my at an 8-8:15 minute pace but I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been getting side cramps at the beginning of my treadmill runs. So, I kicked the pace up to 7:40 and the cramp went away. So weird.

I get impatientduring treadmills unless I’m doing interval work so I was planning only 25-30 minutes for a steady pace run. But, my body kept wanting more so I listened and just kept running until the boredom really started to get to me. I ran the last two miles at a 7:10 pace and felt great!IMG_9089

This morning, I wanted to do a long run but didn’t really have a set distance in mind. I was thinking anywhere from 6-10 would be fine. About 3 minutes into my run, I thought, “Maybe I’ll just head back.” I didn’t feel loose and didn’t feel like I had much energy. (And then I realized that eating Three Bean Chili the night before probably wasn’t the best decision. But hey, it was tasty.)

I told myself I’d give it another mile before I decided to turn back, and switched off my Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me podcast and turned on some music to see if that’d help. The beat of music helped instantly and my legs felt looser a mile later. I just kept running, listening to my body and adding on extra loops if I felt I could handle the extra distance. I finally headed back home because I could tell I was fading and I didn’t have any fuel. I ended up running 15.25 but felt like I could have kept running if I’d had fuel and water.IMG_9103

I’ve read in marathon training plans (and some half marathon plans) that long runs should be 60-90 seconds slower than goal pace but I have a hard time sticking to that. But, ahem, I guess those plans are right because I averaged a 8:15 pace today, and I finished strong feelign like I could handle more distance. IMG_9107

Maizey has no interest in doing any distance this morning. She’s such a grumper today.IMG_9101

So what have I learned the past few weeks of running without any goals? That my body is stronger than I think, that I probably hold myself back sometimes, that I probably push too hard sometimes, and that cycles of lower intensity are just as important as cycles of high intensity.

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  • Reply

    I have to admit I’ve never “accidentally” run 15 miles without prior decision-making to do so, but props to you! You are obviously having a great time running by feel and I bet you’ll have a great race day because of it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Matt Schmidt

    This happens to me pretty often. I plan my running and workout routines for the upcoming work every Sunday evening and especially when weather is great or I’m in the mood for longer runs I run forever 🙂
    Just a short question. I see you’re using one of these garmin watches. Does it also track the route you ran? Can you sync the watch with your computer or load it to some sort of portal?

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