Starting today, I’m taking a two week break from running.
I meant to do it starting yesterday, but it was 40 F and there’s cold weather in the forecast, so I didn’t want to waste what will probably be one of the last mild days of the year. I ran 8 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail starting at Martin Road and it was really frustrating – lots of ice, uneven frozen ground, and spots where the mud or grass was frozen, but I didn’t know, and then my foot would break through. It was a pretty tiring run, but I was glad to get out there just the same.
I set a goal at the beginning of the fall season to take 2 weeks off by choice. I meant to do it at the end of Wild Duluth, but because I DNF (and I took time off due to illness), I ran another race, and then I had 2 5Ks, so I had to push back the break until technically after the fall season (as I define it, it’s September-November, and then winter is December-February).
Physically, I can benefit from a break. The blister-turned-callus on my right heel might go away. The chafing on the middle of my back from my sports bra clasp can heal. In general, my knees, hips, and ankles can benefit from a break from the relentless pounding. My recent slower 5K times have indicated my body is fatigued.
Mentally, I really need a break. I’m a bit burned out. It’s dark out early. I have to wear layers. I always have smelly running clothes hanging in the bathroom. I’m tired of every route I run. I feel like I don’t have time to do anything but run. This isn’t actually true, but it feels true because of the early sundown.
I’ve got other stuff to do, though. Strength training, for example. That’s fallen by the wayside, and I’m going to need to work on both my core and leg strength for next year. I’ll work on my nutrition, too. I haven’t made dinner or a lunch for myself in weeks. I’m trying to lose weight, too (turns out you can gain weight even if you’re running marathons and ultra marathons! Ugh). I’m an overweight runner (technically an obese runner, if you go by BMI alone), it’s not a crime, but it’s also a hindrance to getting faster.
Running is completely off-limits, but walking and hiking are not. I’ll count hiking towards my total mileage during the year, since I do plenty of hiking during races, ha ha. I won’t count just regular old walking, because I already don’t, but I do need to increase the amount of walking I do during the day. My job is fairly sedentary, and I need something active to replace running.
I’ll do a lot of planning, too, at least for my next upcoming goal race (currently Zumbro 50, first time I’m admitting that “out loud,” but I’m not registered yet). I’ll get a training plan of some sort together so I at least have something to strive for once I’m back out on the roads/trails/treadmill on December 18th.
I’ve taken breaks before, but they’ve always come as the result of something outside of my control. Illness, injury, burnout, or scheduling issues have kept me off my feet for a few days or a few weeks at various points over the last couple years, but then I end up with a lot of guilt or anxiety about not running. Now I’m in control, and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this break.