When Do Training Plans Become Irrelevant?

As you well know, I am training for my third half marathon (I mean, I post about it at least like 5 times per week…so I assumed you knew…). I’m doing a beginner training plan. Beginner. For my third half marathon.

I have it in my head that I need to train for this distance, but then I began to think, “Do I really need a training plan for a distance I have run two times, and have trained for two times, and have survived two times? Even with an injury?

I beg the question: When do training plans become irrelevant? When are we “done?” When have we graduated from textbook training to “I got this – I don’t need a book”?

I began to think about this when I thought about re-adjusting my time goal for half marathon #3 (different blog post sometime – it’s a long story). What if I want to just run, see where it goes, and see what my time ends up at? It’s pretty different from my original obsession of wanting to run the damn thing in under two hours. Considering I was injured during my last race and didn’t finish it until nearly three hours, I’m I might not be ready for 13.1 miles at nine minutes.

The training plan I’m using now has bumped up to six days a week of running. Six! I’m not going to run six days a week; I don’t think that’s conducive to my lifestyle with a toddler, husband I’m madly in love with, puppy. I can handle five. I can’t handle six. I hopped on board with Hansons Method because I love the science behind it, but I definitely don’t see myself running six days a week (and I didn’t realize that there was six days a week of running – I thought there was five).

So if I am letting myself off the hook just a bit with my time goal, and I don’t want to run six days a week…why am I following a textbook plan? I am set to run nine miles this weekend. Nine! Once I hit ten, I could run a half marathon at a time that isn’t too bad. As in…I could run one August first, probably. My half is September 24.

I have been beating myself up constantly since I couldn’t run tempo miles as fast as I wanted to. I know that some of this is mental. I really think that to get past the mental barriers, I need to ditch the apps and the watches and the phones and just go out there. I know the length of my trail, so I don’t really need electronics with me all the time.

I want to stay somewhat regimented, but I’m not the type of person who has trouble with motivation to train. I love to run, and I love to train. I want to keep running five days per week, but I think I want it to be a bit looser than what this plan accounts for.

Plus, please hear me out on this: our sport has to be fun. If it isn’t fun, we are going to lose our passion for it somewhat. “Fun” can be defined in different ways; for some, it might be a leisurely run through the park. For others, it might be a crazy time goal. Whatever it is, KEEP LOVING IT! One of my favorite quotes: “Run often, run long. But never outgrow your joy of running” (Julie Isphording).

When did you get to a point where you felt comfortable registering for a half marathon and just running without a training plan? When were you able to really figure out that you could handle preparing yourself on your own?

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