The Care Free Miles

Lately my training has gone from care free to even more care free if that was even possible. Last week I only ran 4 times.  With four weeks until my marathon that wasn’t exactly what I wanted or needed to do.  It was a busy week and I let go of emotions during the week and each of my four runs was extremely productive.  With one run being 21.5, my longest run to date.  Not only my longest run but I felt strong during my run as well.  I felt like that particular day (even though it was around 85 degrees) I could have easily finished a marathon.  Not easily but I felt strong enough that I would have finished.

I’ve been all over the place with running.  Before I got a stress fracture in 2011, I was a very hard routine runner.  I ran exactly 1 hour (to the second)  every day between a 7:00-7:15 pace.  That is what I did. The closer to 7:15 the pace was, the more of a failure I felt.  I was new to running and didn’t know the difference.  Do that for a month or two and you get injured.  My injury was a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.  An injury I needed to realize…that isn’t how running works and I was overtraining.

For the later half of 2011 and the rest of 2012, I began higher mileage with no speed work until May 2012.  I just ran to run.  I would run everyday between 8-10 miles.  Gradually (by summer 2012) I grew to about 10 miles daily.  I preferred to do two shorter runs versus one longer.  I was training (on a pretty set plan) for my last year of college cross country.  I ran a certain distance and felt good when I needed and tired when I should.  For some reason though cross country was not in the cards for me (a productive season that is) and I developed a cyst in my foot that ate up my entire season.

For the rest of 2012 and 2013 I just ran higher mileage.  This time I didn’t run every day.  I would cross train when I felt like it.  I normally kept my mileage between 70-80 since that seems doable and reasonable for me (with 1 day off at least weekly).  With one day off weekly, I found I craved running and also recovered well.  I managed to (knock on wood) stay injury free.

Now I’m still in that phase of running and I also know running is not my sole activity throughout the day right now either.  I have other things that might get in the way of running.  I have a life outside of running and I’m okay with that.  It seems silly to write a post about how my life exists outside of working out or outside the internet but it’s true.  I’m coming off a 60 mile week and going into a higher mileage week.

As I have continued to say each post, I’m the least stressed I have ever been.  My goal race is only a month away but I am still living in the now and present.  Each run has meaning to me and I’m very happy to get each one in.  I don’t take running 12-15 miles daily for granted and the more I think about that the more happy I am.

The next two weeks I’ll be way more focused on running and the final two on taper.  The next four weeks I am grateful to have support from friends and family that know I need to put more emphasis into quality running.  That being said when I stopped stressing and worrying about my miles, I found my miles became far more quality anyways.   It’s funny because I’ve been told a few times lately my running style and personality is more compared to a carefree hippie then ever.  When it stops working for me, then I’ll become more structured I suppose.

Questions for you:

Do you follow a plan?

Have your workouts always been similar? 


  1. I like to follow a plan because it keeps me accountable for different reasons. Coming off injury it is tough to tell yourself to just slow down and take it easy (I’m sure you know this). So right now I have a 5 week plan that is working up to being comfortable with 8 miles. Most of my runs are between 2 and 4 miles with a “long” run of 4, building up to 8 miles. This morning I did 3 and had to force myself not to speed up the treadmill. Having the numbers there make me be smart and hopefully recover full by the new year!

    I am glad you are in such a good place with your running and can’t wait to see you dominate NYC!

  2. I am currently following a plan but when I set a PR in Twin Cities I did NOT. I was extremely care-free about my running. There’s something to say about that as long as you are getting the miles in. You already have a big endurance base and speedy legs. Glad to see you are getting those 20 milers in though!

    1. I think once I have my first marathon under my belt I’ll know what to expect. I’ve had a great training cycle and have no regrets either way but I know whatever I run that I’ll be able to improve on more with a tailored plan. 🙂

  3. I think that the less we think of running as “work” the more its enjoyed and the more we get out of it. The moment we think of it as a “chore” it is no longer fun or enjoyable. I follow a loose plan because the day that I miss a scheduled run I feel pressure to make it up and the more stressed I get. I don’t run nearly as often (or as fast!) as you, but I follow a 4x/week training plan (along with 2-3x/week CrossFit), when I’m training for something. I’m not big into organized running events, so I don’t usually ever have anything scheduled. The times that I don’t have anything scheduled I still run 3-4 times/week, just not any particular mileage in mind.

  4. While I can’t relate to the running aspect, I experienced something really similar in terms of my diet. I used to be really anal about what I ate, planning everything out, tracking macros, and avoiding a lot of foods, and te whole rigid approach didn’t do me any good. Not only was I miserable, but my health suffered a lot as well. It wasn’t until I eased up and started going with the flow that I began to see improvements.

  5. I used to run an hour a day, every day too! I look back and realize the amount of time I spent on the hamster wheel and how much of the world of running I was missing out! It’s definitely different once you realize there are things other than the treadmill at the gym. I wish I would have learned more about 5ks and things when I was in high school so I could have put all those runs to a better cause! Oh well, live and learn right?!

  6. I’ve never really followed a plan, other than the crazy ‘plan’ in my own head…which isn’t usually very rational, but what the Hell. I did used to run a similar way to the way you do now though – 70-80mpw at whatever pace I felt capable of doing that day. That was back in 2009 I think, before I upped the mileage to transition to half/full marathons. I’ve always been a high mileage runner, because I guess I run for reasons of sanity above all else. My times are actually crap for someone running 100+ mpw, but that just shows that I overdo it. Trouble is that I want to do everything at once – I enjoy gym classes (they are truly fun/social time for me and seriously I am not a social person at all so it means a lot when I say that), I’ve always been an insomniac so I have a lot of free time at night, but that also means I’m always below an optimal state of fitness because there’s no repair cycle going on. I’ve never been able to follow a plan – I just have to do my own thing. I guess if you’re a hippie runner then I’m a Hell’s Angel runner living dangerously and not playing by anyone’s rules…let’s just hope I don’t crash my metaphorical motorcycle, eh?

    I love that you’ve found an approach to running that keeps you in tip top shape. I have absolute faith in you, and I know you’re going to achieve great things come marathon day!


    1. I actually agree with that a lot. Part of me would love to be able to do more gym classes and cross training but I know right now I need to be doing more running.

      Thank you so much Jess!

  7. I have followed plans before but when I get off track that’s when the pressure builds up and I get upset with myself. I was actually following a plan leading into the Philly Marathon last year when I ended up the same as you – with a tibial stress fracture hobbling around in a boot for weeks feeling sorry for myself. My goal is to sail into 2014 with an open mind and open heart for running. It’s meant to be a fun escape, not a stressful chore. For me, my twisted mind seems to think that if I’m not stressing out about it I’m not a serious runner. I think I am slowly losing my mind!

  8. Post-Rowing I have never followed a plan. I pretty much do whatever workout I want when I want. In theory plans sound good to me because they will offer structure and often times guarantee results, but I just don’t think I would be happy sticking to a plan. Here’s to hippie-dippy plans!

  9. My workouts have been all over the place, but once I pick what I am doing, they’re pretty planned to some extent. Two years ago, I did couch to 5K. It’s almost funny to look back at now because, honestly, I really don’t think someone who was in as bad a shape as I was should have touched that program. I didn’t need to be running at all (without proper supervision). I ended up with shin splints and bad form and twisted ankles because I had no idea what I was doing and was too dumb to stop.

    Now, I go to a fitness center. I’m a class junkie. The only time my routine changes is if the center changes the schedule. I do Zumba on Monday, Piloxing on Tuesday, PiYo Strength on Wednesday, R.I.P.P.E.D on Thursday, off Friday, R.I.P.P.E.D. again on Saturdays and then off on Sunday. It took me months to convince myself off days were okay.

  10. I switch everything up. I had a strict plan for my half marathon training but not so much for either marathon. For the first marathon I got in a lot of short runs during the week and a few long ones right at the end. This go round im hardly running during the week and just doing really long runs on Saturday. I try and do what my mind and body feel as corny as that sounds I just want to have fnu and not make it a chore.


  11. I’m definitely a plan person. I like knowing which workouts need to be completed, the purpose/goal of each, etc. That being said, though, I am looking forward to some unstructured “workouts,” aka downtime after this weekend. 😉

  12. I mean I am as far from plan as possible but it helps me – I think I had to be a plan person on a high school team but I really fell in love with running when I let the plan go (and after an injury forced me to realize how I was abusing that power to run)

  13. I was actually reflecting earlier today, on how far I have come in my running. I feel like a newbie still, but over the years the truth is that I HAVE gained wisdom. I know that crappy, unmotivated periods will dissipate. I know that if you want to get faster…you have to run faster (imagine that). I know when I truly need a break and when I am being lazy. I know that every once in a while being lazy is ok.

  14. I love that you are able to look back on your old mistakes with running and benefit from them. Do you think you’ll enjoy this taper? Were you a fan of taper in swimming??

    1. Taper was okay for swimming. I’ve only had a few good tapers and only two in college. The other one ended awful. One taper for college left me having too much rest and my muscles were tight and I had an awful championship race. (I actually went faster at some races during season). I don’t mind the physical aspect of resting for taper but I think there is a very fine line of too much rest and too little rest.

  15. Good luck with your taper :). Even 4 days of running per week is great, that’s normally what I do. I know I’m not nearly as fast as you, but sometimes when life is crazy, you can just run 3-4 days per week and you will still maintain your fitness or pretty close to it, and can jump back into running when life slows down.

    It’s good that you can look back on your previous periods of running and see why/how you got injured and have changed how you run, listened to your body more, cross trained when you need to, etc. That’s definitely the key- I think a lot of runners don’t even stick with it long enough, or they get injured and just quit, rather than looking at the big picture and finding ways to improve.

Comments are closed.