Have you heard of the term ‘junk miles’? Running coaches / magazines / blogs often talk about how every run should have a purpose – how it’s either a fast short run, or intervals, or fartlek, or hill sprints, or slow long run, etc. They advise against just running without a clear plan of what kind of a run you’re running.
This probably makes sense for people who are competing a lot and are chasing a specific race time. For most of us, however, I don’t think it makes sense. Most of us run for so many other reasons other than to get faster. Every run counts in many ways, whether it’s fast or slow or short or long.
Every run burns some calories and that counts for someone who’s trying to keep their weight under control.
Every run teaches you something about your body – you observe how you feel and assess whether you need a rest day soon or not, whether you have eaten something that isn’t agreeing with you, whether you need to pay attention to specific areas when stretching, etc.
Every run is a time-out from the rush of your everyday life, it’s valuable time to just think and be and sort things through in your head.
Every run is enjoying the sights around you, appreciating the city/town/village that you live in.
Every run makes you stronger in more than the physical sense – one gains a lot of self-confidence in clocking up the miles week in and week out.
I will keep up my schedule of 1 long run a week (15-20km at the moment), 1 short fast run a week (usually 6km) and one 10k a week at whatever pace my legs will carry me on that day. If my legs feel like going faster than usual on my long run, I will go for it even though the experts would say I probably shouldn’t. If my legs don’t go fast enough on my 6km run then I will go with that but take an extra rest day as that’s what they probably need.
I could never think of some runs as being pointless. Every run teaches me something and every run makes me just marvel at the fact that I CAN run, that I DO run and that I never get bored of running.