This past October, I ran my second Chicago marathon. After months of early morning training runs, hours spent away from home, and in bed early on Friday nights, I was able to shave off over 24 minutes from last year’s race. Thrilled to say the very least!
Coming off of a good training cycle and race, all I wanted to do was keep running, but I knew that I had to (and deserved to) take a break. My body needed it both mentally and physically. My goal was to take at least a week off from any type of strenuous exercise, but naturally I lasted 4 days. My race was on Sunday and by Thursday I was back to taking class at The Barre Code. Two weeks later I was back on the treadmill logging miles and doing speedwork.
Something happened in November. I’m not sure if it was the cold snap and the fact that I dislike the treadmill or if I jumped back into it too quickly, but I lost my motivation and my will to run. November’s mileage total equaled a measly 10. That’s quite a decline coming from a month where I logged almost 60 miles. Last month, running became something I dreaded, not anything I looked forward to and it was then that I decided to take a little break. I think I even let my Garmin die for the first time in years.
So what did I do instead?
-I attended more classes barre classes. I took class whenever my schedule would allow it, which averaged 3 times a week. Not running gave me time to do a workout that I love just as much as running.
-I enjoyed many glasses of vino, craft beer and late nights on the couch with my husband and early mornings making pumpkin pancakes with my daughter.
-I celebrated turning 30. (heading to NYC at the end of this month!)
Overall, it was a great month. The thought of running was always on my mind. I walked past my Garmin every morning, wondering if I should plug it in but the desire just wasn’t there. Physically, I was there, but mentally I was just burned out.
I think taking a month off from logging miles, aiming to beat last run’s time, and having a regimented schedule did some good. Last week, I finally had the urge to charge my Garmin back up, put on my running shoes and headed to the lakefront for a 3 mile run. It was a cool, early evening run–it was starting to get dark outside. I ran without headphones for safety reasons. It was actually very calming to listen to my own breathing pattern. It was then that I knew the break was a good thing because I instantly missed that post-run high you get after a good run. I had no expectations for this run. I had no time goals. Even with taking a month long break, I was back to my normal comfortable pace and had negative splits.
The quote listed above (run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running) couldn’t be more true. When a hobby you once loved stops being fun and becomes more of a chore, what’s the point? I LOVE the feeling that comes along with completing a marathon. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced with any other race distance, but it can be time consuming and sacrificial, especially with a family and a full-time job.
At the end of the month, I set a list of goals for myself of things I’d like to accomplish for the upcoming year. There will be a running goal on there for sure, but I don’t foresee a marathon in my future next year. I do want to do another one but in 2015 I’d like to work on getting faster and maintaining it over a longer distance as well as fueling for a longer race (half marathons). I want to get back to running because I love it, not because I have to.
Runners out there, have you ever taken a break? How long and for what reason? I believe last time I took a long break was during my pregnancy with Madelyn.