Last week I saw a client of mine who's currently in the middle of training for the Amsterdam marathon in October. Whilst he's been getting his runs in consistently, he seemed a little stressed and somewhat despondent about his progress.
After chatting for a while, it became clear what the issue was... he felt overwhelmed by his programme. The amount of miles he had to cover, the pace he had to run them at, logging everything he'd done, sharing it on social media and so on. I've certainly felt this and completely knew where he was coming from.
As we've discussed in past articles, having a plan and keeping track of your training is essential for performance, but there's also a time when it's appropriate to put all of that to one side to have a break from it. At this stage, what I'd recommend (and suggested that he did) is to run 'naked'. Not literally as that's generally frowned upon in this country, but as a one off session with no headphones, no heart rate monitor and most importantly no watch or phone app (which means you have no real idea of your time or pace).
The purpose of this? To get away from the norm of training to progress and for a moment to just run for running's sake. To focus on your technique, your breathing and enjoying the present rather than constantly checking the pace, time, distance etc.
If you haven't done it before (or at least haven't in a while), I'd highly recommend running naked at some point soon. Choose a route you know if you want to set a distance, or you could stay reasonably close to your base and make it up as you go along. Frequency is of course your decision, but I do one of these runs about once a month to take a break from the pressures of technology and hitting splits.
I'll be catching up with my client this week to see how it went, but I feel pretty confident that the occasional run like this will help him feel a little less tense as well as reminding him of why he loves running. After all, it's not all about targets and numbers.
By Marc Brown