Casual Running

I haven’t really posted about my training in a while or where I want it to go.   Or the fact that I am not being coached by anyone right now (I would have thought people would have assumed) but there it is all out in the open like that.  I am still on good terms with my coach, I just don’t have really anything I’m balls to the wall training for.  It’s not cross country season, it’s not the Olympics…quite frankly I’m just running with absolutely no focus and enjoying the journey to go there.

And you know what? 

I’m really enjoying how my running is going right now.  I have absolutely no pressure to do anything (not that I ever had pressure beforehand) but now I have even less pressure.  I’ve always been one (even being coached) to fly by the seat of pants.  I normally have always had a rough outline of what sort of runs and workouts I wanted to do for the week, but have a Monday: 6.45 miles, Tuesday: 12.69 miles at 8:02 pace…ect type of log?  I don’t think so.  Ever.

For instance during a training week my thoughts normally begin like this: This week I’ll attempt to run between 70-75 miles with five miles of speed somewhere in there…is it a race…maybe or just some tempoish miles.  That is the extent of my scheduling and planning.

So does this really help me?

I have actually found that it does and it does a lot.  First of all, I’m not obsessed with pace.  I don’t care. I could run 10 miles at 10 minute pace or 10 miles at 8 minute pace.  It’s still 10 base miles.

When talking with a fellow runner, I realized that it hasn’t always been that way for me.  I haven’t always been not obsessed with pace and numbers.  There was a point in my running career that I would run in the same 10 second pace range for every run of the week.  That pace was between 7-7:10.  All that did was make me injured.  I never got much faster and I was miserable the entire time.   I was so antsy if my overall pace was 7:11 or more and thought I had loss my all endurance…sounds silly now but that is what the new runner in me thought.  Train fast to go fast.  Race myself everyday.

In fact during that particular time of my running career, my 5k PR was 20:10.

Now it’s 18:57 and I run 75% of my runs above an 8:30 pace.

My half marathon PR then was 1:36.56…now it’s 1:27.17.

So for me, not caring about pace has turned into continuing to improve on running.  I can’t tell anyone how to train and what works for them and nor do I want too.  I’m telling you how liberating it is for me to be carefree about pace.

What it took for me to get to that point isn’t easy and honestly, without being injured I don’t think I would have gotten here.  I truly learned my body is not going to respond well to fast runs everyday and it will be injured.

I think I should have renamed my blog CasualLOLZ or something.

Questions for you:

What are your thoughts?

Do you schedule workouts everyday or fly by the seat of your pants?

Categories: Tags: , , ,


  1. My workouts end up being scheduled around family commitments, what my husband’s work schedule looks like, and what classes my gym is offering that day. If the weather is nice, it typically turns into a running day.

  2. I do follow a schedule for my workouts, but I do keep it flexible – I don’t worry about it if I have to reschedule or if I’m not feeling it that day. Not allowing for any sort of flexibility really just makes my gym time stressful!

  3. I never used to schedule my runs but when I started training for a half marathon I tried to stick to a vague plan of having an interval run, a tempo run, a long run and an easy run. Sounds like you’re living the dream then with avoiding injuries, not killing yourself on the pace AND beating your times!

  4. I do schedule some workouts- I do group fitness classes that I obviously have to schedule because some are only held so many times a week, but that’s pretty loose. As far as runs go, I schedule speedy stuff and that’s about it, just because I *have* to schedule that or I won’t do it. I really can’t deal with those people who are so unflexable that they will pass on something fun because they have to run 17 miles, or will not go for a quick social run because it’s a “prescribed rest day”.

    Following a schedule is one thing but when you’re so set in stone with it that you’re scared to miss a workout, cut a workout short, or just add in a short 3 miles and coffee with a friend… yeah, that’s no way to run or live.

    I also tend to run a lot of slower miles and I don’t think it hurts at all. If you run fast all the time your body never recovers for your muscles to grow and mature anyway.

    1. Exactly-that is why I don’t schedule rest days. I’ve also seen the opposite where people refuse to hang out or break plans to get their run in. Each to their I suppose. Running slower miles is what builds your base and a lot of runners could learn that.

  5. I like that you showed the difference in pace for your runs then and now. Sometimes even though I may feel comfortable running at an 8 minute pace, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be running even slower to give my legs a break. I think that’s why I like running with someone- it keeps me from going too crazy. During the summer I train more like your schedule with the mileage estimates and maybe a tempo thrown in there but during the year, I’m on a pretty tight schedule thanks to my coach 😉

    1. Yeah I suppose you are on a tight schedule when you follow your coaches plan. My coach was never that strict, he was pretty casual about what I did and that’s why I enjoyed it so much.

  6. I know we talked about this. I am kind of in between your take, and the extreme opposite. When I am training for a race I have an idea of what my weeks will look like for workouts, and have them planned up until race day. BUT these plans change ALL the time. At the end of every week I evaluate where I am at, how I feel and what I think I need to focus on that week (Base mileage, distance, speed etc), and I look at my work schedule and see what fits best where. I also change workout plans daily if need be based on how I feel and what I have going on. I found that strict plans don’t work for me, I need to be able to change it constantly for what works for me. This has decreased my numbers of injuries, and my race times have gotten much better, and mentally I stress less knowing that I am in control of my training.

    1. Exactly. There is no need for your training plan to be stressful. Being in control of my training is what I have found to really work the best for me I suppose.

  7. I like the idea of flying by the seat of your pants. I’m still so new to running, and am training for my first race (a half marathon), so I have set distances I go when I run, but I’m not concerned with my pace. If I finish the half marathon alive, I will consider that a success!

      1. I’m doing the 50 Yard Finish Half — it ends at the 50 yard line in the stadium that the Buffalo Bills play.

  8. When I started to make time goals for myself and not allow myself to just run anymore, that’s when all of my problems started to happen as well. I was doing spring intervals and shit to try and up my miles for my half marathon. Whomp, whomp. I definitely look back and think I don’t care if I run a 10 minute mile for thirteen miles, I just miss running period.

  9. Great post. i think you really broke down that barrier of fast runners always have to run fast.
    sounds like you have found the smart way to train and what works for you. I know i can’t run fast all the time, I would be sore 24/7.

  10. I used to schedule absolutely everything other than pace (I have always simply had easy/hard as my pace markers, rather than a specific time goal until recently). It didn’t do me any favours really, as any change in the routine would totally throw me off into a huge panic attack and I’d never get anything done to the standard I wanted it. I guess I’m more flexible now – at least I don’t HAVE to do my longest run of the week when it’s snowing/icy/raining just because it’s a certain day and I know the next day will be sunny, for example.

    I get frustrated with people who run everything at a 6:30 pace or similar – usually people who do that have to take breaks due to exhaustion and/or get injured unless they’re Olympic athletes. I get that we all have something to prove – I still freak out on myself whenever I run in the 9:00 miles because to me that equals ‘slow’ and I equate ‘slow’ with ‘fat’ in my head (because sadly the two do seem to correlate with me). Also because even when I was new to running I never ran in the 9:00s, so I think logically I shouldn’t now, even if the distances are further. That said, all of my stress fractures occurred during periods of frustration where I’d try to push for the low 7s three times a week, so I suppose 9:00s are preferable to that.


    1. I am actually pretty similar as far as fast or easy. My runs are literally 6:30 paced or they are 8:30+ paced. That doesn’t bother me I guess (and will be lucky to do a 6:30 paced run once a week…obviously I haven’t done any in a month or two).

      I find that so many people who blog (and even those that don’t…I just see it more with blogging) think they have something to prove and so will run those faster paces which are completely unreasonable. The day I become competitive with a blogger…well it will be the day LOL.

  11. This reminds me a lot of where I was during the spring/summer of 2012. Just running, for the most part, whatever I wanted to. I was in the area of 75 miles a week for a while and my endurance was through the rough. However, it was all very slow very hilly trail running. Thus my speed and muscular strength plummeted. I did absolutely no fast running, and suffered for it once a race or two came along. It was just not the right type of running for my body and my goals.

    Perhaps you’ve found a better way of training that works better for you! It seems you have 🙂

  12. After being coached for years, I bet it feels weird to not be now. It did for me, like I was sneaking around or something. I’m currently flying by the seat of my pants due to stuff getting in the way. Gotta be ok with that for now. Have a great day Hollie.

  13. I’m actually really happy to hear that you don’t push it on your training runs. I haven’t raced since like last June but I have noticed lately all of my training runs are chillen around 9 so I’m kind of nervous for my race this weekend. I had set a goal for a 8:30 pace and haven’t been running that in any of my long runs… I mean sometimes I will do 7 something miles though for shorter distances… I’m rambling. Anyways, I’m glad to hear that it’s not bad to take it easy on long runs, that is all ha

    1. LOL, I don’t mind rambles at all! Anyways-I don’t run anywhere remotely close to my race pace and have found that works for me. You will be surprised of what your body is capable of when you get back into racing!

      1. If I go super slow on Saturday I am going to blame you for making me feel okay with slow poking around on my long runs. Hellllo scapegoat : ) I’m sure we will both make these halves our bit**es.

  14. Great post, and great to see that you’ve figured out a more laid back approach to training that’s really working for you. Those are some seriously awesome times!! And it’s so great too that you’re treating your body better and preventing injuries. That’s some seriously smart training!

  15. Casual running is the bomb! Even when I’m getting ready for a race I do casual training… It’s much less stressful!

  16. Love when the pressure of running is taken away. Just running for enjoyment is awesome. And the same goes for working out in general! It’s nice to just do it for you and not be pressured into it.

  17. Random question what do you do with your old running shoes when you wear them out?

      1. Have you always donated them or did you start recently? Do you have a hard time saying goodbye to yours?

      2. I honestly just didn’t really know what to do with them. I didn’t really have a hard time saying bye. I have my first pair of running shoes but other then that, I keep the currents and last retired (in the back of my car). 🙂

  18. I’m not an elite runner or super-smart researcher, but I’m pretty sure science backs up your 75 percent of runs at an easy pace–and totally kicking butt! Maybe Runner’s World said the Olympic runners complete 75-80 percent of their runs below race pace? The same goes with professional triathletes–most complete 80 percent of their training at an aerobic pace and 20 percent at anaerobic pace. Keep doing what you’re doing–it’s working! 🙂

  19. Amen sista friend. Running should be FUN – when you get to scientific with it well the joy of hitting the pavement goes away – really fast I might add. Do I like seeing faster times? Yes, I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t but it isn’t something I stress about. Every day i get to run injury-free, even if it sucks (my legs feel like lead, too windy/cold, etc) is a good run. One of Saucony’s beliefs is that every day you run is a good day (Perks of working at a running store – I know all the missions of major shoe companies haha)

    Enjoy the trip down to VA! I know Shannon is super excited hang out with you!

  20. What are your thoughts?
    I am 41 going on 42 and I have been running for about 10 months now. This past weekend I paced the St. Pat’s 4 miler at 6:54.. My best time yet! However this post has come at an interesting crossroad. Lately I have scaled back on my daily runs (Speed Wise) as I am afraid of injury. Several weeks ago while running I fell. It hurt like an SOB. Thankfully I injured my hand and not my legs. I think I will keep my speed for the races and keep a casual pace for work outs. Like today after work I ran 10 miles at a 7:50 pace….

    Do you schedule workouts everyday or fly by the seat of your pants?

    I take every Monday off. I run on Tues/Wed/Thurs/Fri & Sun…. Now I adjust this to my life and what is going on. But I do run every Sunday morning with the Triple Cities Runners Club here in Binghamton, NY.

    1. I fly by the seat of my pants every day minus race day. Then even then I’m not sure what I do. I can’t say I could physically run a 7:50 10 miler without thinking about it first though!

      The only thing I really schedule are basic plans. Like this week (coming up before my half marathon) I know I’d like to get a nice speed workout in Thursday…I do’t have an exact pace or plan I just know I’ll probably run faster than an 8:30 pace.

      1. Come to think of it yesterday’s run was FBSOMP… I knew I was going to run but just made up my course as I went. Wound up being 10 miles through the City of Binghamton. Trying to get motivated today as the sun is shinning but I’m tired!

  21. I love hearing someone at your level’s perspective on this.
    I found that a similar approach worked well for me and it is encouraging that someone at a much more competitive level doesn’t freak a leak about pace!

  22. I’m a huge fan of the whole “fly by the seat of my pants” approach. I used to be really anal about making sure that I stuck to a really specific workout schedule, but in the end all the pressure I put on myself just stressed me out and actually ended up being more harmful than helpful. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes for me to be able to adopt a more casual approach, but I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better.

  23. Such a great, informative post!
    This probably explains why I get injured all the time- I never used to do slow/easy/recovery runs, I’d always stick to the same pace- this has completely changed my attitude towards running now and I can’t wait to get back to it and incorporate those recovery runs to rest my body 🙂

  24. Now you know I love this. Except I hate that you had to get injured to let go and be casual. But I know from dance that I could always whip out those 5 beautiful pirouettes when the stress of it was gone, when I wasn’t trying, and when I didn’t care. I am not saying your don’t care, but I think you have more joy and are better able to enjoy your runs on the treadmill, on the grass, on the road, in a race, or on some random afternoon. I like your planning and it is kind of what I do except I just say “I am going to get in 3-4 runs this week” I used to plan it all out by the minute and it led to hatred and actually a less fit me! Your casual approach is something I wish more people could discover (but I hope it doesn’t take an injury for everyone to have this realization)

    1. I hope it doesn’t need an injury for others to realize this too but I know that if I had never gotten injured, I probably would have kept doing what I was doing…the injury was a blessing in disguise I think really…

  25. totally fly by the seat of my pants. i’m just too type b to follow any certain plan. You can probably see that from my half training- don’t think I followed more than a few days of the actual plan on purpose. Life is too crazy lol I did stuff but not exactly like it said or whatever. I also think I if I had followed my plan I would probaby be injured anyways. I’m just way to go with the flow to be strict about things. And days I am tired and want to rest I just do it, no sense in forcing myself to do anything I don’t want to. that is just silly!

  26. Well I will just say one thing: I was just like that obsessive 7-minute-miler too, with similar PR’s to yours….and all it got me was some SurgeryLOLZ! I am kind of planning my (painfully slow) comeback and the running you do now is really a big inspiration of sorts to me – seeing how much success you have with it, that is the kind of run training I want to be doing once I’m back at it. I mean obviously I won’t be jumping in at 70mpw….but clearly doing all my runs fast isn’t going to help me.

  27. I have the same exact approach to running. First of all, I can’t run fast every day, because it makes me injured which is no fun. A mile is a mile, and that’s what I need more of to build a base to get from. I’m glad you get results from that – it encourages me to keep the stress low, because I know it is possible to improve like that.

  28. great post and thank you for sharing! glad you’ve found what makes you happy as a runner AND brings home the results! keep up the great work!

Comments are closed.