I think having a routine is important. As a parent, as a husband and certainly as a runner I have benefitted from trying to make many aspects of each role consistent. Routine doesn’t have to mean being a slave to having everything exactly the same all, day every day. It just means discovering the circumstances that work best for you and making a solid effort to replicate those circumstances. If something out of your control changes, you roll with it. If the routine stops being effective, you adapt it.
One thing that is often overlooked with routine is how organic it is supposed to be – it seems counterintuitive but routines should change. Running is the perfect example of this idea. When you start training for the first time or set yourself a new goal, you are looking for that perfect balance. How often do I run? Should I be trying different kinds of workouts? What should I eat? So many questions!
Even if right out the gate you have things figured out – your routine HAS to change. Otherwise, where would the improvements come from? Your body and mind both adapt to changes. In reality, both rely on constant changes. If you ran at the same pace for the same distance for the same amount of time each week you would likely see some improvements. At some point, however, you are going to plateau. You are also likely going to become very, very bored. The mental fatigue from a routine set in stone with no variation is just as likely to burn you at as the physical fatigue from over training.
Keeping track of not just the numbers, but of your energy levels, your mood, what you ate, how you slept is an important habit to develop. This allows you to see what works and what doesn’t. It also gives you a chance to step back and look at overall patterns in your life, not just your training.
Growth and improvement is all about information. The more you gather and the more you look for relationships within that information the better you will be at building a successful routine as well as when you need to shake that routine up.
You know what they say – the true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Running isn’t any different.