There used to be a quote on a Starbucks cup that started out, “The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating.”
I always liked it and knew that somehow I could relate it to my running, but I didn’t quite understand how. Finally, I do.
This quote has a sister idea, which says that with constraints — take an artist’s committing to napkin-art, for example — comes the freedom to create. In this case, freedom from the tyranny of the blank white page.
Ever since I finished my 100-miler in 2013, I’ve been an aimless runner. It’s been pretty nice: I’ve loved the freedom to run when only I want to, unburdened by a training plan to specify mileage or pace. And I’ve done a decent job staying consistent.
But recently I signed up for my first race since then: the Richmond Marathon, mid-November, six months from now. I chose a training plan (or rather, I stitched together two of them), and I started training.
Since then, I’ve had to run what the plan says, when the plan says.
It was a hard transition at first. I mean, come on, run when I don’t feel like it?
But now, four weeks in, I fully appreciate the value of commitment to a plan. It’s not just that it ramps you up to the race distance. It’s that it forces you to stretch.