9.9 miles in 90:12 outside – bit of rain but it felt great. Realizing that Saturday runs are my relaxing “me” runs.

It’s kind of interesting – it seems that I have fallen into a bit of a pattern with my weekly runs, with different runs focused on different things to meet my overall running goals. But Saturday runs seem to be more about me than my running specifically. That sounds a bit strange but I will explain.

I do Tuesday (short), Wednesday (medium) and Thursday runs (short) on the treadmill and I find on those runs that I feel the need to push the speed. So those runs end up being pretty fast and strong – definitely faster and more focused than my outdoor runs. That means I get used to running faster and push up my cardio level.

Then I do a medium run outside on Saturdays and my weekly long run on Sundays. The long run is about the distance – I go slow and push through so it is never a very fast run but I concentrate hard on making the distance I have set for myself. The Sunday run then is about getting my body used to storing fuel for a long run and for toughening the mind to keep pushing when I am tired.

On the Saturday runs though (like today’s), I find that I have no drivers – nothing that I am pushing for besides just running. I am not trying for speed and I am not pushing for long distances. The Saturday runs then end up being just about me and the miles. They seem to be the only runs that really clear the mind and let me just actually enjoy the running.

That may seem like an odd statement too – I only enjoy the Saturday runs? That’s not really true – I enjoy seeing the progress in my abilities that the other runs give me and I get major satisfaction from reaching new levels and new goals. But…those runs end up being a tool for the satisfaction of reaching the goal and not about just enjoying the act of running. So really, I enjoy those runs AFTER they are done – but maybe not so much during the run sometimes.

I realized today that these Saturday runs, without any other external driver, are about enjoying the run for what it is. Sure they also help me reach my goals by increasing endurance and keeping me used to running my long runs on at least partially tired legs (which is required for the Goofy and Dopey Challenges). But I think I actually get more than that out of the Saturday runs because they help me clear my mind and refresh my drive to run…because I am enjoying them when I am doing them and not just when they are done.

Now that I have made this realization, I need to keep it in mind for September through December when I shift away from this current pattern of weekly runs for my Dopey Challenge 2015 training. During those months I will be doing a medium run on Tuesdays (probably treadmill) and then short runs Thursday and Friday (both probably on the treadmill). On Saturday and Sundays I will continue doing what I am doing now with a medium run on Saturday and then the weekly long run on Sunday (both outside when the weather cooperates).

I need to think then about which of the weekly runs will be the “me” run? Which one will refresh my drive and clear my mind so that I can continue to push through the many weeks of Dopey Challenge training? I suspect it will still be the Saturday run but maybe it will be Tuesday instead? It’s hard to say until I get into that training cycle to see what fits and feels right but it has become obvious that I need to make sure I have one of these “me” runs each week.

So the lesson appears to be that focusing on the work you need to do to meet your goals is very important but you can still get major benefits out of occasionally letting go and just enjoying yourself.

Hey! Yet another life lesson learned from running!

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