In Praise of Running Plans
Tuesday posts are focused on back-to-the-basics of running for beginners and experienced runners.
People with a plan do better than people without a plan
I’ve fumbled through January, getting in my runs here and there, missing or falling short on more runs than I care to admit. Looking ahead, I’m reminded of the usefulness of creating and following a plan for my running.
Whether we call it a running plan or training plan doesn’t matter. Makes no difference whether we design the plan ourselves or take it straight from a web site or book. The point is a good plan is worth its weight in gold—or Gu packs, or doughnuts, or pizza.
During marathon season, I map out a 16–18 week schedule detailing my training to include the right blend of easy, speed, pace, and long runs. When not training for a race, I usually get good results planning 3–4 weeks out, even if most of my running is low mileage and slow. The point is not having it all right and perfect with the certainty of a TV evangelist. Instead, a plan gives me a road map to where I’m heading.
I’ve learned the hard way about being a slave to a running plan. Following a running plan too rigidly feels more like boot camp and can wind up getting us injured, disinterested, and without enjoyment and satisfaction. Instead, I’ve identified a few advantages to using a plan to guide our running.
A plan motivates me to take action. Even when the conditions are imperfect, my plan cajoles me to get out there and accomplish something for me.
A plan shows possibilities. Reviewing a plan reveals when to ramp up, back down, rest, peak, cross train, taper, race, and not race. A plan captures my best applied thinking about what I know about running and training well.
A plan is like a running partner but without the sweaty smell. It increases the likelihood I’ll get in the running that I planned when I planned it. A good running plan helps us prioritize and make the best use of our limited time.
Takes the mystery out of day-to-day planning. Without a plan, I’m scratching my head each day wondering what to run. This by-the-seat-of-my-pants planning and wondering often leads to repeating the same-old-same-old or even procrastinating my running.
Gives me purpose and milestones. With a running plan, the stage is set to accomplishing something. Without a plan running my goals are good intentions wrapped in vapor. I find my running plan sets the stage for improvement. It’s how the good stuff builds on the good stuff.
Finally, a running plan gives me something to cheat on. You can’t play hooky from school on Saturday. Similarly, not running when there isn’t a planned run isn’t nearly as fun. The greatest escapes start with a plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spontaneity in running. Just like a friend who drops by unexpected or a weekend afternoon that turns into a nap, some of the best runs are not planned. Those are gems, but we can’t count on them. So a running plan gives us more predictability about our running.
There have been plenty of stretches in my running life when I’ve wandered care free and without a plan for my running. Those have a time and a place too. But consistently and predictably I’ve learned the timeless lesson...
...that those who have a plan do better than those who don’t have a plan.
Plan on Flickr by PibeFision
Planning book on Flicker by wsox23