Casey's 'No-Plan' Training Plan: How one runner fell back in love with running

Casey's 'No-Plan' Training Plan: How one runner fell back in love with running

In 2018, I ran 3 of the 5 (I think) races I registered for, only actually raced one of them, and didn't sign-up for a few events that were on my original race plan. The year started off on the right foot with a couple great (for me) runs including a PR at the Chuckanut 50K thanks to my awesome running coach, a decent training block, and of course, my love of running.

Shortly after my super day in March, life happened in a major way. My kids began an extended and busy athletic season, my partner was working around the clock, my own workload wasn't lightening up and most of the time my head was spinning (literally and figuratively, thanks anxiety). Did I mention I was planning our family's relocation to another state? Like MANY other women out there, I was running the show 24/7. I often tell my husband that I am the COO, or Chief Operating Officer, of our household -- feel free to use that if you'd like, ladies!

Most of us use our chosen method of exercise to help relieve stress. It's an opportunity to disconnect from "all things life" and reconnect with ourselves, with nature, with a podcast or audiobook or maybe a friend who joins us on occasion. That's definitely the case for me, except for when it wasn't. 

I still had goals, my running coach, support from friends and family, but I completely lost my mojo. Those Wednesday hill repeats were just another "task" I had to accomplish in an already busy day. That Sunday long run was consumed with making mental lists of crap I needed to get done yesterday. I could not get into a groove. I was not enjoying the process, and on top of it all, I really just felt like a failure. 

Finally, this past Fall after MONTHS of fits and starts, setting new goals to help re-stoke the fire only to realize I wasn't really interested in or committed to making them happen -- I decided the goals and the training plan just weren't for me. I had already parted ways with my coach; she is amazing, but a surprise and necessary home repair project sprang up and I needed to make some sacrifices. Yep, this is what they call adulting, kids. The time was right to commit to NOTHING. I jumped in with both feet!

So what did my commitment to nothing look like? Essentially, I decided to get outside on the days when I felt good, to run based on feel, to set zero time or mileage goals and to do what I could with the time that I had. If I didn't feel like running, that was fine because I didn't have to. Now that running wasn't a chore, it became a choice - and most days I chose to get after it. Knowing that I was simply going to head out for an easy enjoyable run and make mileage decisions on the fly excited me. Not having a number to hit means any number I hit was an accomplishment rather than a failure!  

Those 8-10 weeks of willy-nilly, carefree running were just what I needed to feel like a runner again. They helped me remember ALL of the reasons why I love to move freely on trails, and they allowed me to once again reap the mental and physical rewards of activity outside in nature. I made new much-needed running friends and I ended up building a stronger base than I've had all year, in quite a few years really. Cheers to that!

So, now it's 2019 and I feel ready and excited to transition to an "actual plan" training plan. I'm pumped about my new goals, some of which will have me hitting distances I've yet to experience. My body and brain remember why I make time for this sport and I have a newfound understanding that for me, a no-rules reset might be needed every once in a while. My cup is filled and my stoke is high: running without limits or structure was a lot of fun, and now I'm ready to do the work because that's fun, too.

I'm thankful for this sport, this community and that there is not one way, but many different ways for each of us to get to the same place of gratitude; gratitude for being able to move and challenge our bodies in nature, to nurture our psyches, to explore and discover wondrous places on our own two feet. 

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Have you ever lost your fitness mojo? What did you to get it back? Share in the comments below.