A quick flick through any running magazine will throw up countless running regimes:
– couch to 5k!
– run a marathon in 6 months!
– take on Usain Bolt at the 100m at the next Olympics!
A lot of runners swear by them. When trying to arrange a night out on a Saturday, it is not unheard of for a runner to say with reverence: ‘Sunday is my long run day’, as if this was added as a footnote to the 10 commandments.
Such runners stick to their regimes religiously: Monday is intervals, Tuesday is hill running, Wednesday is “rest day” (but not a rest day involving burgers and re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy, but 100 laps of the pool or a quick 100km mountain biking session). Thursday is tempo run, Friday is ‘core work’ (I’m still not quite sure what this is)… and so on.
I’m not meaning to mock the running regime. They are structured like this for a reason, and runners who follow one will no doubt produce consistently faster times.
My problem is that, as soon as I feel like I have to do something, it becomes a chore.
I don’t know about you, but my life is full of chores. I have to go to work, I have to clean the bathroom, have to cook tea, I have to clip my bunny’s claws, and so on. For those with children the whirlwind of chores must chew you up and spit you out.
For me, running is an escape from all that: I don’t want it to become an addition.
Sure, Tuesday could be tempo run day. But what if Tuesday comes round and I don’t feel like doing a tempo run? What if I feel like doing some intervals? Or heaven forbid, kicking back with a box of Thorntons and channel hopping for five hours?
This sort of attitude goes against everything they tell you. Many a motivational poster quote boils down to: run whether you feel like it or not.
But the thing is – and I know this will come as a surprise to many – I am not an Olympic athlete. Truly. I know! Unbelieveable. Anyway, I’m not. So my times might not improve, I might never get rid of that roll of lard round my thighs, I might never scoop that alluring <50m 10k time. But does it really matter?
I get up in the morning and think, do I feel like running today? And because it’s not a chore, because it’s not something I have to do, half the time the answer is: yes, I do.
Sometimes I’m out running and, after 2km, I’ve had enough: I go home. Other times, I feel like I could run forever, Forest Gump-style, so I pull out an 18km from nowhere. But if I had woken up that morning and thought: I have to run 18km today, because my running regime told me to. Well, it becomes a chore.
You’ve probably guessed I don’t like being told what to do.
Anyway, this is how it works for me. As a result, I run reasonably consistently and have done for 8 or 9 years. I am relatively fit, but not stupidly so. I love running. But sometimes I love not running. There’s a lot to feel guilty about in life. Don’t let running be one of them.
What do you think? Do you worship at the alter of running programmes? Or do you prefer to take a free and easy approach? Let me know!