All runners form into some form of pattern with their running. It is inevitable. Whether we are a college student or older with a career and family, we set time aside for running and when we are at our highest level of fitness we are following that schedule consistently.
For me, I have always tried to get off of a set pattern and add variety into my running. It can be something like wearing a variety of different shoes to running on different surfaces. Having variety in my running has always given my mental state something different to look forward to when I wake up in the morning. Often, I do not know how much I am going to run, where I am going to run, or how fast I am going to run until I am a mile into the actual run. This simplicity has taken some of the pressure off of myself and has allowed me to relax and to continue to enjoy running to its fullest.
With that said, I know that I am at the highest level of my running when I am on some sort of set schedule. I can't help to think back to my fall training and look at how consistent my weeks were. Mondays were the same every week, so were Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and so on. The only variation in training were the weeks we had a race, which turned into a pattern all by itself since we mostly raced every other Saturday. Even the variations I had in my training surfaces began to follow some sort of pattern as the year went on and one could easily predict what I was going to do on a given day.
Everyone knows that I thoroughly keep track of my mileage through various logs, and that has kept me very in tune to what I am doing and I usually repeat the things that work for me and try to correct the things that do not work for me. So, with all the variations that I try to implement into my running, it is often the routine of being a runner that keeps me running week after week.
This also has me thinking about other types of variety as in activities. Ultra runners often enjoy many other activities other than running; skiing, biking, hiking, climbing, back country camping..... I remember talking with someone a few weeks ago, both of us were aspiring ultra runners. He asked me what else I did. I was alarmed at the question and began thinking of what I do, and my answer was simply, "I just like to run."
For being an up-and-coming ultra runner, I guess with maybe the way I dress or the way I act, people would look at me and say I must do other things besides run like all the other ultra-people. I have tried to enjoy cycling, I probably would like climbing but I was never introduced to it and don't know how, I am from Southern Ohio and have never been skiing, and camping takes a lot of time and money.
All running takes is shoes (if that) and a pair of shorts (more than that during this winter) and you can do it as long as you like. You don't have to worry about a tire popping 10 miles into the woods or spending $1,000 on a nice tent. All that controls you when running is yourself, that level of self-sufficiency is what I love about it.
Someday, I might be climbing mountains or skiing down snowy slopes, but for now, I will be running and only running. I can continue to be surrounded by nature by running on trails and as long as I get the thrill that I am getting, this is how I will be enjoying my days.