Inyour constant search for programs, you may come to a stalemate: you have seen, read and studied (or had them customized on you) so many that you no longer know which one to choose. And eventually you may come to give up running altogether, or at least try to.
I have always been an advocate of extreme simplification: aware that the road that connects points A and B is not always the straight line, I admit, however, that often simplifying means two things: it gets you to an acceptable and welcome level of efficiency, and it gets more things done. One complicated thing takes all your energy; different but simpler things can be done more quickly.
One thing at a time
As a good believer in the theory of how to do many things (Easy: do one at a time), I find that simple programs fit this logic perfectly.
Which is not to say that one should not aspire to have more important and complex ones, not at all. There are many people who can handle them with ease and fluency. One secret is to break down big things into smaller ones, because ultimately everything we do is composed of smaller and smaller actions. A program to prepare for a marathon is immense (partly because it lasts for months) but ultimately it is composed of individual workouts, to be tackled one at a time.
However, the fact remains that sometimes, especially when you don’t have a specific goal to motivate you, you may come to wonder why you are doing it. Why vary workouts? Why alternate between running, swimming, biking? Why, if you don’t have to prepare for a half or marathon?
I don’t tell you to do as I do but I tell you how I do it. I simply run. My minimum and even maximum program is to run, consistently.
If you like, it’s very self-referential: I run for the sake of running, and of course for everything that running gives me. But basically the purpose of running for me is to run.
Is there anything simpler? It is linear, so much so that it is self-explanatory.
Yet it should not be underestimated: just because it is simple does not mean that it is easy to execute. Lacking a specific goal also misses that point on the horizon that anyone preparing for a particular event looks at. It is like training for a race you will never do. Or for a race you run every day: that of staying true to your commitment to you, which is to run regularly, all the time.
It is a system that does not suit everyone: there are those who need to prepare for something concrete or there are also those who tie physical activity to certain personal goals they have set, like losing weight. I tie it to running itself, which more intimately is a commitment I’ve made to myself: it’s something that’s good for me and something I need, so that’s enough.
The beauty of this approach is, I repeat myself, its crystalline simplicity. Which is not, and you may have realized this, also an executive simplicity. You must paradoxically be even more motivated when you have no clear purpose. Each workout is not one less workout in the preparation program for some competition but is one more workout in building our consistency, our commitment.
Such an approach has also another positive side: those who do a race for which they had prepared often suffer a drop in motivation. The goal has been achieved and there is no-at least not immediately-a new one.
Those who have no goals, on the other hand, renew a pact with themselves each time they run and make constancy their motivation.
Simple, but not easy. Like all simple things. Because running for the sake of running is simple, but it is not easy.