As an endurance runner for many years, my daily run is often my favorite part of the day. Whether a tough mental run or one of those runs that seems effortless, the runitation* and post-run sense of accomplishment is the height of each day.
Recently, however, my runs took a turn for the worse. I struggled through flat runs and practically walked up an easy trail run. I started dreading my runs. My frustrations affected my personal and work life.
Finally, after a particularly rough trail run that left me huffing and frustrated, I decided to take a week off.
Needless to say, this wasn’t an easy decision. I have rarely taken off more than 2 days at a time from running and the thought of 7 days off had me terrified. But I knew the break had to happen.
Day 1, I slogged through work with no run to look forward to. I got home far earlier than ever before and filled the void by cleaning the apartment and sipping on wine. I read countless articles preaching the importance of time off for injury prevention and mental relaxation while assuring no dramatic loss in fitness. Even then, I feared my first run back would be at a snail’s pace. I worried my lack of activity would cause my weight to balloon and leave me slumped on the couch without the muscular strength to get up!
Day 2, I decided to shift gears and focus on stretching and self-massage. I grabbed my handy-dandy Classic Tiger Tail massage roller and popped it in my bag on the way to work. I took a break to roll out my legs and lower back several times during the day. That evening I hopped on my mat, practiced some yoga, read the book I hadn’t had time for, and went to sleep early.
The rest of the week consisted of more yoga, stretching, self-massage, and relaxation. With the sense of dread surrounding my runs gone, my days felt more positive and less stressed. My body felt great, aches and pains that had bothered me for weeks had finally gone away, and I felt mentally strong again.
On Sunday, I went for my first run in a week. Let me tell you…it felt amazing. My legs felt powerful, my mind felt calm, and my body seemed back in tune. And for the first time in weeks, I was looking forward to my next run.
So it seems that a week off won’t leave you slogging slowly with the tortoise when you’d rather be speeding ahead with the hare. In fact, a week off and some self-care could be exactly what you need to get back to you.
*run-meditation: that sense of mental quiet and peace while running