Joe Henderson's 1974 book Run Gently, Run Long is full of quiet, thoughtful, Zen-like advice on the value of doing something simply for itself. All benefits are side-effects. The act is its own reward. Yes, sometimes there are unsought bonuses. Henderson describes a gift he received from not-trying:
But as soon as I quit wanting to race, all my racing immediately got faster, even short things like the mile. As soon as I quit trying to make speed come, it came. When I lost my fear of failing, I no longer could fail. Because I wasn't working hard every day any more, I was fresh and relaxed and eager for those rare hard days at races, no matter what the result.
And then, as we always do, he tried to race, trained too hard, and got hurt. Henderson quotes Jeff Kroot:
The only things a runner should be concerned with are (1) getting enough miles to be fit for what he wants to run, (2) keeping his energy reserves high, (3) avoiding injuries and (4) staying interested. As long as he's doing these things, it doesn't matter what kind of running he's doing. The "best" way to run is the way that satisfies these needs.