A Girl Without a (Training) Plan

This is the first time in well over a year that I’m not training for some kind of race.

All my race bibs

In 2011, I ran 24 races. In 2012, several more.

It feels extremely weird. Really, really weird. It was my personal choice — for my body’s sake, my mind’s sake, my relationship’s sake and my bank account’s sake. But that doesn’t make it less hard.

And it’s leaving too much time for thinking. And doubting.

  • Can I still do it?
  • What if I lose all the gains I’ve made in training?
  • How am I going to fill my time?
  • What can I train for next?
  • Does my body (and bank account) really need this break?
  • What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just run like I used to?
  • Does this make me less of a runner?
  • Is running for fun really going to work for me?
  • Who am I without a training plan?
  • What can my next goal be, if it’s not to conquer a new distance?
  • Why is it so hard for me to return to my running roots — the ones of love and joy and hope?

I do know that most of this is nonsense. A runner without a training plan is, of course, still a runner. I am firm in my belief:

If you run, you are a runner.

Besides, racing isn’t the only way to run. And racing doesn’t define you as a runner. Just ask Kara Goucher.

“That’s the thing about running: Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” ~Kara Goucher, via Runner’s World

After the Kalamazoo Half Marathon, I was completely exhausted from running and took a full week off. I came back to running feeling much better about it and knowing that I needed to take some time off from strict training programs — for a while, anyway. My mind needed it as much as my body did. And that first run back? I was beginning to see glimpses of that very new love I felt when I took my first steps as a runner. I want to get back there again.

First run back

All smiles during my first run back from my week-long running break.

In the beginning, I fell in love with running for running — not racing. Running saved my life — not racing. Running taught me to love myself and believe in myself — not racing. Racing was simply a way to say: “See, I really can do it. Look how far I’ve come.”

I just need to get back to that original love. That running for running’s sake. That rush and love and joy of running. But I know myself very well, and I am an extremely goal-driven person. If I don’t have a new challenge to work toward, it’s hard for me.

I’ll get back there. Every day I lace up my running shoes and head out the door is a good day — even when the run’s kinda stinky. And I know know that this is the right step for me this year — amidst wedding planning, family “stuff” and blending two lives. But, again, that doesn’t make it any less difficult.

But there’s a component that’s missing lately. I can’t put my finger on it. A written schedule may help — it reads like a training plan without the pressure — and gives me a daily goal to meet. Perhaps shedding the GPS now and again would help, too.

Maybe you all have some suggestions as well?

Mr. B and Me

One of my favorite races to date wasn’t about the race at all. It was about being next to Mr. B — laughing, chatting and, of course, crying. That’s the feeling I love. That’s why I run.

Whispery part: I must admit, some days it’s quite hard to read about everyone’s training and races, knowing that I don’t have a race in my very near future. Some days I get jealous of the looks of accomplishment across people’s faces when they finish a race. And it’s hard to stand firm in my belief in myself as a runner, knowing that even though I don’t race, I’m still a runner.  



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7 responses to “A Girl Without a (Training) Plan

  1. I have the same problem with basketball. After I left college and started to just training to stay in shape, something was missing. It’s was the responsibility to the team, meeting the goal set by the coaches, winning and losing, being booed, being cheered, it was the love for competition. I play for fun but I look at the youngster going after their dream and it isn’t the same. I have start writing and I have found it have been filling the void. I still play but I don’t crave it as much as I used to. I advise you put that focus into the reasons you stop competing (relationships, finances, mind, body, and spirituality). Go into the second phrase of your life and put your all into preserving and sitting back to remember the enjoy of competing. The medals, starting gun, the battles with fatigue, and the addictive feeling of passing the finish line!!!!


    • Thank you so much for this message. It is all of these things and more — it’s for fun, but there’s also something very special about going after the big ticket at the end of the plan. But, you’re right — now is the time to re-examine my goals, look at where my life is now, where I am now, and move forward into this very exciting chapter of my life. Happier and healthier — and better able to enjoy it than ever before.


  2. wendy warren

    You are running the best race of all: life!


  3. Jessica

    I feel the same without a plan.


  4. Lucy Couturier

    I agree that running and racing are two different things. I never raced, but for several years loved to run. And when I couldn’t run anymore, I speed-walked. Now I can’t even do that, but still walk the orchards, fields and woods. It’s good for mind and soul as well as your body


  5. Pingback: Oh, For the Love of Running « That's All Joy Wrote

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