Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flexibility in Schedules

One of the glorious things about not being on any plan for a specific race is to do things by feel. My running lately, though not scheduled through an actual plan, is still somewhat structured. I'm not going to try and mash up a speedwork session the day before or after a long run just because I feel like it. I still have my principles!

But, what I've noticed about these past almost 2 months of just running without a plan, is that some days you have it and others you don't. While on a plan, you may feel guilty about "only" running 4 miles, when you were supposed to run 6. Or that you were supposed to do a tempo run, but you just ran an easy pace. Take away the perception that "I must do x, y, and z or my season will be ruined", and workout seems to be fun again. I think its that freedom to choose what I WANT to do today, rather than knowing I HAVE to do something, that I enjoy most about this little deal I have with myself.

And I am starting to think I am on to something here. A few seasons ago, I took training and sticking to my schedule a lot more seriously. This year, I took a more hands off approach, allowing for a bit more flexibility. I enjoyed my training a lot more because of it. Did it allow me to maximize my potential output? Not necessarily. But then again, I am not trying to win anything outright. I am trying to improve, but still have fun.

However, depending on the distance you are training for, flexibility is all relative. The longer the distance, the less flexible you can be with your schedule. For example, long swims, rides, or runs, are a critical part of any training plan, whether training for a marathon or an Ironman. You can't necessarily just run 6 miles, when you need to hit up a 20 miler. Its kind of hard to get around doing that. But some of the other stuff in between should be able to have some flexibility, like swapping out a tempo run for an easy run. If its not there that day, don't force it.

As long as there is consistency in training, I think flexibility in the schedule is a good thing. And that has me continuing to do what I WANT to do, which is what motivates me to get out there each time and have fun.

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