The Beauty Of Unstructured Workouts
Every once in a while, it’s good to give your mind a break and do whatever you want for workouts—even when you’re training for a big goal (maybe especially during that time). I tried it for one week and was surprised at what I ended up doing.
I have a coach, a huge goal and daily workouts I typically check off mindlessly every day. Some cause more anguish than others, but I dutifully watch as the data strip in my TrainingPeaks log goes from yellow to green as I swim, bike and run my way through another week. But somewhere in my fourth month and third year of training, I wanted to do what I wanted—not what was dictated to me by my coach via a training app. So I did.
Day 1: Rest Day
Obviously this was what my mind and body needed. I didn’t do anything special like get a mani/pedi or spend the day at the spa; I just didn’t train and found I had an enormous amount of time to run errands, read articles and listen to podcasts–and I only had to take one shower.
Day 2: Orangetheory With Friends
This may not seem special to most, but I live 40 minutes from the nearest Orangetheory and need to basically take an entire morning to drive there, take the class and drive home. I also usually do all of my training solo and, being in a room filled with like-minded people, two of whom I’m friends with, was like heaven. Plus, there was a lot of running involved.
Day 3: Run And Swim…Without A Watch
I obviously love doing all the activities I normally do; but to move through them without a pace or time parameter is an entirely different experience.
Day 4: Yoga
Again, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but usually don’t have time for. Now I could (at least for one day). Although I was far less flexible than most people in the class, the kind instructor reminded me it was “because you do other things that bring you joy.” Absolutely.
Day 5: Open Water Swim With My Kids And Dog
There is nothing like sharing your love for a sport with family. Obviously this was not a “serious” workout, but I enjoyed watching my kids and pet as they enjoyed the sport I do almost every day without them.
Day 6: Volunteered At A Race
I will admit it was hard being on the sidelines and I had to force my legs to stay still. But how inspiring it was to watch runners in what I know can be a brutal battle of will and strength! Every runner should stand on the other side of a water station at least once.
Day 7: Long Solo Bike Ride
I had no planned route or time and simply went where I felt like going. I made turns down roads I have never traveled and returned home when I got tired. Imagine that!
What I Learned
Although I was craving my normal routine after a week of unstructured workouts, I learned that:
- I need to take more breaks during hard training cycles.
- I lost zero physical fitness and improved my mental strength.
- Sometimes workouts should be pure fun.
- Sharing my passion for my sport with others is something I need to do a lot more often!