I have been running Marathons for the past 6 years. When I'm in training, this involves a lot of rigorous running, set schedules, and specialized eating programs.
A fellow runner once marveled that the secret of some professional runners is that they aren't as strict with their schedules and they just "run how they feel". So instead of following a set number of miles for training, they may decide they're feeling great and go further, or go less if they're not feeling it. This helps them enjoy running so they keep doing it for fun rather than view it as work. Since I'm embarking on my 7th Marathon this year, I have lost some of that initial spark, and I was thinking I might need to use this philosophy.
I don't personally know any professional runners, but I do know others who just run how they feel:I originally thought it would be a great idea to use Mr. B. as my marathon-training partner. Unfortunately, with the terrible heat and humidity Mr. B. has been feeling more like this:Basically, I couldn't get him to run all summer.
At the same time, with all the fostering, parental visits, trips, and classes I've been taking this summer, I haven't really been feeling like running either. Embarrassingly enough, I have only been running 1-2 times a week.* Though I still have some muscle memory, I'm not sure if this is enough to carry me through the entire marathon.
But I did decide I will take this approach and "train how I feel" and see in a few weeks whether I'm prepared to run. Ironically, the other day I struggled through 5 miles; however, on Sunday I was able to breeze through a 20 mile training run and still volunteer for an adoption event immediately afterwards. My long run was amazing, traveling along Chicago's beautiful lakefront path, and it made me remember why I enjoy running.
*Disclaimer: I wouldn't advise this type of program for new runners. Going too far too fast could lead to terrible injuries.