For the first time in years I don’t have a goal race or event in view. Ever since Anita and I had our not-fun half marathon in late May I’ve taken a time out from training for. Instead, I’ve opted to enjoy running without a specific goal in mind.
This goes totally against what I had learned from my coach, Linda, through the half marathon training. When I started working with Linda she emphasized the importance of having each run have a purpose. I liked that. Instead of just running, her training plans made me feel as if I was training. There were intervals and tempo runs and long slow runs. Each assignment had a pace goal and a time goal. Something to work towards.
But after the half marathon I wanted to dial it down. Way down. In fact, sometimes, like when I was in Edinburgh, I didn’t even use my Garmin. I just ran for a while and then came back and had a shower. Since I had no goal race, not training for anything in particular, I didn’t have to try to be faster or go further or anything. That’s a big “pro” of not having anything specific in view.
In a word, it made me feel free and easy about my runs.
But it’s also a “con.” Goals motivate. Maybe sometimes the motivation feels a bit “stick” like, but it’s a motivation nonetheless. When we were training for the half, knowing that I would be running a half in six, five, four, three, two, one week got me to do things I didn’t even think I could, like run a kilometer in under six minutes (just one, mind you).
I’ve now been running for two full months with no goal and it’s getting a bit tired. It’s fit well with my hectic travel schedule, since goal-less running is a good fit when on the road. But I think I’m ready to focus on something again.
Violetta and Rebecca have both talked to me about fall half marathons. I know Rebecca is stoked to do the Potamac Half in late October. It was hard to turn down the allure of an event that bills itself as “the easiest half marathon in America,” but I don’t think I can make it. I’m also not sure I want to train for a half.
Either way, it’ll give me something to work toward. I had my fastest 10K time ever in the 2014 Halloween Haunting, just after my 50th birthday, the lead up to which I’d engaged in the most intensive training period of my life prepping for the two Olympic distance triathlons that season.
So that’s the new plan.
Obviously, whether you do better with a goal depends on what you run for. I know people for whom actual events just don’t even figure into their running equation. They run not for times or training but to clear their head, gain a sense of well-being, feel energized and healthy, or even to get their creative juices flowing for a writing project or some other creative undertaking.
What about you? Do you think you do better with or without a goal event?