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Surprise Me

Wednesday 10th April 2013

I need to learn, I need to think; I need to re-evaluate my stance on everything.

Miracle of 86 – Surprise Me

I’ve been toying with an idea for a while ┬ábut have only recently started putting it into practice. The idea is that I plan my training as little as possible and just go with the flow a bit more. This might sound like a step backwards for an athlete who is trying to improve, but in my opinion, that is outweighed by the feeling of not being shackled by a pre- determined training schedule. So I’m trying it.

There is a training group who meet on a Tuesday evening when I normally do a track session, and who I had avoided joining for a long time. One runner said to me a couple of months ago “You run at the same time as us and at the same pace; why are you flogging yourself on your own? Train with us.” Some of my friends had already started doing this and were getting some really good fitness gains out of it. My response to him was that I wanted to see how far I could get with my own training. There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had from planning your training, executing it and getting good results. But now I’m happy to follow other people’s lead, and when running on my own, to be flexible. In short, I’m going to be less precious about sticking to ‘the plan.’

Whenever I have been to club training sessions in the last few years I have always enjoyed the anticipation of what session I was going to be allocated and just having a go, not really worrying about what it would feel like. On the other hand, I’ve had times when I’ve planned all my week’s training in advance and been thinking about a session I have to run for days before hand. The last two weeks, I’ve run with the Tuesday group led by the university coach and really enjoyed it. The efforts, recoveries and even the target pace have been dictated to me and I’ve quite liked it. There’s also the added benefit of being towed along by a group, which always makes a session easier.

I also hope that I can be less rigid at other times. Last Thursday I went to the track on my own with the vague idea of doing a tempo run. I set off at a steady pace and stopped when I felt like I was starting to approach a race effort. I then finished the session off with some 200s to get my legs turning over fast. It wasn’t the session I had in mind when I stepped out my front door, but I have no doubt it did me some good.

Let me be clear though – being more flexible does not mean I’m any less focused or goal driven. I still aim to run close to 15 flat for 5k and to break 32 minutes for 10k by the end of the year. I want to be a better track and cross country runner and I want to beat people I’ve never beaten before. I still have a spreadsheet on my laptop with all the races I plan to compete in. The only difference is that it doesn’t tell me what to do in between. Unlike before I have no idea what session I will be doing in three Saturdays’ time, or when my rest days are going to be for the next 6 months. And I feel no worse off for it. Surprise me.