I never thought I’d find the silver lining in this dark cloud, but I must say I am thoroughly enjoying coffee in bed on these cold, chilly mornings. I’ve no guilt about not being out there pounding the pavement as I feel I’ve been given permission not to. It has taken me five weeks to get to this point, but today I woke at 3:30 AM after falling asleep super early last night without the familiar pang of guilt about not running. I had an exhausting day yesterday and after a relaxing glass of wine it was lights out for me. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel the usual stress over missing my run. I’ve noticed these past two weeks a newfound sense of calm acceptance seeping into my body. Perhaps it’s because the NYCM is behind me and far ahead of me at the same time. Perhaps it’s the quiet acceptance of my injury and recovery plan. Perhaps, it’s the much needed mind and body break that is causing this new sense of calm. And, perhaps it’s just what I needed after all.
Today, I plan to go for a nice walk long after the sun rises. I plan to walk and look around at this town I call home. There are some wooded trails near my home that I dare not run alone before sunrise. Today, I will take my husband and dog and explore those trails. This walk will represent the first form of exercise I’ve done in weeks. Yes, I get my daily steps in, mostly at work walking the stairs and halls of my school, but I’ve not had a walk for exercise purposes in weeks. I’ve discovered what coaches, football players and elite athletes already knew, taking a serious break from training after every season lets the mind and body recover. I’m not talking about laying on the couch for the entire 16 week recovery from my stress fracture, but I am talking a serious break from running.
Most athletes build annual breaks into their training year. Not a reduced week or two of training every now and then, but weeks of complete rest. I’m using this forced break to rethink my training schedule. The running group I train with built recovery cycles into their yearly training plan, including use of intervals to provide muscle breaks during runs. They never really discussed an annual break, but the club ends formal training runs in November and doesn’t start up again until May. People meet up and do light runs to stay in shape, but I’m betting many also take much needed extended breaks from training.
Currently, I’m at week 5 of a 16 week mandated no run zone. I’m now embracing the break and repurposing my time off. I’ve done no training whatsoever for the past few weeks. Today, I’m going to begin walking for pleasure. Just walking and if it’s raining, well that’s fine too as I can always roll over and sleep in. I’m hoping to begin doing some light yoga again soon too and I mean light. I’ve really been enjoying the extra hours I have now in the morning. I’ve been sipping coffee in bed in the morning and surfing the internet. I’ve been getting to work super early and clearing out those piles on my desk. I’ve been doing things I haven’t had time for in a long time, but one thing I’ve not done in the past week is feel sorry for myself. The pity party is officially over.
Perhaps this break was just what the doctor ordered, a much needed mental and physical break. A time to recommit to my health journey and ensure that these injuries don’t keep happening. Training for a marathon was hard work! It took so much time out of my life and did cause a lot of stress along the way. The sense of purpose and urgency was real, as real as the struggle was. Taking this extended period away from it has helped me recommit to starting back all over again. Today’s easy walk is for fun and pleasure. I’m planning to add more of that into my life in the remaining 11 weeks off. Hiking, walking, yoga, pilates, sleeping in, basically all those things I’ve been unable to fit on my calendar. Most of all, I hope to rekindle my desire, motivation and passion to make healthier choices and improve as a runner, something I likely wouldn’t have taken the time to do. Not such a bad break after all.
Who else is taking a yearly break from training? What are your plans? Drop me a note below, I’d love to get some new ideas. I’d also love to find some safe, local places near NYC to hike. Please do share.
Sights of my neighborhood