I was reading a friend’s post about ways to spice up long runs. I’m impressed with the precision and focus she maintains in her training. I’m yet to try something different with long runs and usually keep them easy. Some people are quite detailed and systematic with their running. I feel like I’m on the verge of moving that way and might need to put more planning into my runs, however…

I am wary of giving away too much of the simple purity of running. I know, if I want to get faster, then I need to do speed work, have another quality run or two in the week, strength train, etc. And yet, how fast is fast enough?

When looking at how overwhelming structured training plans can become I get a little uneasy. I strictly followed a plan for my June marathon and it went all right. I hit my time goal and had a good race. After a few weeks of recovery and while getting ready for my last marathon, I was less structured in my approach, but still showed up to the race feeling well-prepared and strong. The only speed work I did was an occasional fartlek and tempo run. I stayed pretty consistent with my long run build-up and otherwise had another couple of middle distance runs through the week, but that was the gist of my training over the last couple months.

I’m wondering, when is enough enough? Do I stop with a solid training plan and finding a good group to run with? Do I bite the bullet and find myself a coach to keep me in line? How important to me is it to chase time goals anymore? A Boston Qualifier, do I really want one?

In the end I probably most appreciate exploratory runs through the woods and letting my beard grow long. I hope to keep my ferocity, but I’m not very concerned with trying to win anything or achieving a certain measure of competitiveness. Moments where I can bask in the sense of freedom that comes with a run as long as I want through the wilderness— these are the runs that soothe my soul. And yet, part of me enjoys tediously tearing around the track until I want to barf. Other more focused runs are enjoyable at times too. Some training guidelines are definitely useful as they help to keep me focused and more likely to head out the door since there are times when I don’t want to run at all.

In writing this I’m getting to the answers of my questions. I need a training plan that provides an unstructured outlet for joy and madness. I could also use some more focused, planned runs to help stretch my limits. And I definitely need friends to tear through the wilderness with on occasion. I don’t want to keep the trails or revelations that come to me out there to myself, let’s go explore together!