For many years, my running followed a strict schedule. If the day's training called for 5 miles, then 5 miles I ran. Not 4.9. Not 5.1. 5. If I was training for a marathon, I could tell you the exact mileage I would run on a given day 3 months down the road. Staring at 4 months worth of pre-planned running didn't feel right. It didn't feel natural. Following a training program made my running feel like a chore. It began to suck the joy out of it.
As my running continues to evolve, I've started breaking the chains. The first link to go, my training schedule. When I get home from work, I slide on my running shoes and run until my body says, "I've got my fill for the day." Some days all I need is a 3 miler. Other days I'll blow off some steam by running a hard 6 miler. Then, there's my favorite...the ones where I get lost in the motion of running and find myself creeping well into the double digits. By running what I feel like and not what I'm supposed to, I feel free.
The second link to go, my Garmin. This is a new one for me. Over the last month, I've been leaving my Garmin behind when I head out the door. In fact, at my most recent marathon, I ran without my Garmin and it was awesome! Instead of staring at that damn watch and obeying its commands, I listened to what my body was telling me and ran accordingly. Isn't that the way running should be anyhow?
Having said all that, do I think runners should stop following a training schedule and not use a Garmin? Not at all. In fact, without having those aids when I first started running, I would have had no idea where to begin...and forget about being able to train for my first marathon without following a program. But, I'm at a point in my running where I feel I don't need these things to achieve my goals. I'm taking a more laid back approach and as a result, my running and race training have become more enjoyable and less stressful.
In essence, my running has been rejuvenated.