After a very unsuccessful 2011 and 2012, I knew I needed to make changes. But I was struggling with how to go about that. I kept putting together plans and I kept failing miserably at sticking to them.
In fact, Most of January and February was an attempt to follow a plan of some sort but it just was NOT working for me. I had laid out a do this on this day and that on that day type of plan. Which is essentially what I had done for all of 2011 and 2012 as well. But I was failing to analyze why this concept was not working for me.
Towards the end of February, I came down with a nasty little cold and I was forced to rest instead of run. It was during that down time that I decided to analyze what was going wrong with my “training” so I pulled out my training logs from 2010 and compared that year to 2011 and 2012.
I was a novice in 2010 but I managed to do a LOT of things correctly without ever realizing it. But once I started to consider myself a “runner” or at the very least, not a novice, I thought I needed to follow a training plan in order to actually BE a runner.
That thought right there is terrible and horribly incorrect. If you run you are a runner. Period.
But it took me a couple of years to realize that last statement…
I consider 2010 my “golden year” – the year where things were perfect and I made so much progress and I fell in love. But, I also never really followed a plan during that entire year. If I had a distance race coming up then I would add in longer runs a few months before the race but for the most part, my overall goal was to run a certain number of days. Not run a certain number of MILES but DAYS.
Once I realized that was really and truly the only difference between the years, I had a new “plan”.
I scrapped EVERYTHING I had laid out for the year already and updated everything to just running a certain number of days.
But what number of days to choose?
I actually struggled with this. 5 days a week was so successful in 2010 (even though some weeks were less and some were more) but I had been so out of the running game for two years that I wasn’t sure if I could run 5 days a week consistently. But I also felt like 3 days a week wasn’t enough for me (personally) to maintain running fitness.
But I decided to start back slowly. Most of March I would require myself to run at least 3 days a week but I really wanted at least 4 days a week. I just needed a little running ego so I kept the “plan” at three days but mentally told myself I would be running 4… Sometimes we need a little cheat. Then I would (Officially) bump it up to 4 days a week in April and stick with that through the rest of the year. If I had distance coming up on the race schedule, I would add in a longer run once a week. Otherwise the focus was just simply to run a certain number of days per week… whether it be a half mile or 5 miles.
That was the turning point. It is almost as if I need to run without the pressure of sticking to a plan. Or if something happened and I have an off week, I didn’t feel like I fell too far behind. The thing I struggled with the most while trying to stick with a more traditional plan was dealing with a set-back. Everyone has a week here and there where life gets in the way or you get sick or whatever. It was how to get back into the plan after that off week that was the main crux of my issue. I put so much pressure on myself to run a set number of miles that when I didn’t or couldn’t for whatever reason, I would get insanely frustrated and just wonder what the hell the point was.
Basically, I would give up completely.
With the pressure off, I had more success with running. I started to feel stronger and I was getting out there regularly. And that is the most important part, Running became a regular activity again instead of this haphazard, oh crap I have a race in a couple of weeks so I should probably run, type thing.
Consistently, after all, is key.
Perhaps I should have realized this earlier but I wasn’t analyzing what was and was not working for me. I just kept trying to stick to a plan because that is what I thought I needed to do.
But when the longest race distance you do in a given year is a 10K, do you really need to lay out a plan where you HAVE to run X on X day and Y on Y day?
Not really… It works for some and more power to them. But it does not work for me.
So with my plan for 2013 figured out, I laced up and got back out there.