There are basically two ways to train: with or without a plan.
Those who use the first method generally are preparing for a competition and thus follow a program found on the net (maybe here, right?) or lent by someone or–recommended choice–customized by a coach. These people have a mission: to prepare for something, and that is why they find motivation in performance building and constancy precisely because of the goal they have set for themselves.
Then there are those who run without a particular purpose, or rather: without a purpose that requires a particular plan. Which aim am I talking about? To tell the truth, more than one, starting with the most common, and that is losing weight, to the desire to carve out a very personal and solitary time, eventually to pure meditation. This article speaks to them.
Running for no reason
If you run for no reason, it is harder to find motivation. Especially as soon as you started doing it and despite sudden improvements, running remains an abnormal activity for a while if you have always done something else in your life, especially if that something else involved a couch and you on it.
In short, in the beginning, running is not really the most natural thing for you to do. This phase, that I call “adaptation” or “habit-building,” is a little bit harder tahn usual: you have to adapt your body and mind to something they are not accustomed to. This is the time when you must never stop, sustaining motivation with an act of faith: running will become something enjoyable and something you are unlikely to give up.
It is at this juncture that what I call the “vicious-virtuous circle” develops, that is, a condition of addiction that produces positive results, as opposed to other addictions that almost always have negative consequences.
The vicious-virtuous circle has the same characteristics as the vicious circle but has much better consequences, like being very good for you.
State of grace
How do you notice when you are a “victim” of the vicious-virtuous circle? It is very simple: when running no longer weighs you down and, indeed, you seek it out as an experience you want to have because you know it is good for you. You have entered the virtuous phase of the cycle, and what positives you get out of it far outweigh the negatives. What negative aspects are we talking about anyway? A little sore legs? It’s not like these are the problems that will make you give up.
Now all you have to do is learn to love and keep this miraculous circle going. Once started, you cannot expect it to feed itself.
From this point on, everyone has different experiences. While continuing to run is imperative, the question arises as to how to keep the pace.
Some people just need to do it once a week, others several times. Personally, I have adopted the rule of 3 runs per week or, alternatively, of mixing training days with running days, with a double rest day when you want. The plan-though calling it that might make someone smile-is this:
Day 1 – Rest
Day 2 – Rest
Day 3 – Run #1
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5 – Run #2
Day 6 – Rest
Day 7 – Run #3 (long run)
I repeat: this is my own plan which, on purpose, I have not articulated according to specific days of the week but only according to generic days and expressed in numbers, so that the week can start from anywhere. In the above case, it is seen that the long is always followed by two days of recovery and then continued with normal or more technical workouts interspersed with a single rest day. Let say you had the long run on a Saturday, you could also perform the next workout a day later and get rid of one rest/recovery day.
And now: customize
This, I repeat, is my way of structuring training. This is not difficult to remember and positively fuels the vicious-virtuous circle.
Because what they didn’t tell you when you started running was that you were developing a form of addiction that would lead you to need to run because your body wanted and needed it. And mind you: this need for movement can also be met on rest days, for example, by walking or doing core.
You have to think that you have left behind an old version of you, namely, one that did not conceive of physical exertion at all. Instead, now you are familiar with it but you have to satisfy it, partly because it usually gives you back more than you gave it.
On the plus side, you won’t have to move to make your body and mind feel good: you will do so automatically as you continuously seek the state of grace and thethrill of running.
Welcome to your new version: you will no longer do what you have to do but only what you want to do. I would say it is a remarkable evolutionary leap.