Just Rolling Along

Today’s 13K run was my fourteenth consecutive day of running. All barefoot, of course, and all enjoyable. This is becoming what folks on dailymile call a “runstreak.” I’m not sure how long it will go on. I have no particular plan or goal in mind, so will keep on going until I feel like taking a day off.

It’s an interesting experiment, though. I feel better than ever about my running, now that I’m doing it every day. In the past, I’ve followed any number of training programs, all of which are solidly grounded in exercise science, common wisdom, a specific coaching model, or a combination of all three. All were based on periodization, the theory that “involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time” (from the linked Wikipedia article). I’ve done the one-size-fits-all Running Room program. I’ve got an Arthur Lydiard training program pinned to my corkboard. I’ve even followed a tough Comrades Ultra training program sent to me by my cousin in South Africa, who’s done the Comrades 11 times.

They all worked. Of course they did. As I said, they’re all based on solid science, the experience of countless coaches, trainers, and runners, and years of tweaking. They all involve gradual increases in distances and effort in pursuit of a specific goal. And they all involve taking one or more days off each week.

So why am I running each day?

Well, most of all because it feels good. Plus, my goals (such as they are) have changed. I plan to do a couple of 10K races this summer, and a half marathon in September. But I’m not looking at any particular finish time goals for any of those races. So I’m not really training. I’m just running.

I don’t wear a watch anymore on my runs. I don’t look at the clock before I leave on a run, or when I get back. I don’t have much of a sense of what my pace for a run is. I don’t try to go quickly or slowly. I just pay attention to my form, to the way my body feels, and I let my thoughts go where they want to. I just run. And I haven’t felt the need to take a day off. Not yet, anyway.

At the bottom of all of this is my real goal for this season. And that’s to become a better runner. Not a faster runner. Not a longer distance runner. Just a better runner, because I’m learning to run naturally, psychologically as well as physically. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher I’m reading a lot of these days, once said “Truth is a pathless land.” By that, he meant that truth could not be approached by any path whatsoever. I’m taking that quite literally, in my running as well as in other parts of my life. So, no program, no plan, no goal. I’m just running.

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