How long has it been since you took a break from running? Do you need to stop for a bit?
Running is a high impact sport, especially if done constantly on roads/hard surfaces and with year-round training. Many runners are scared to take an off-season due to thinking they will lose fitness – or even lose the habit of running altogether (not going to lie to you, I have heard of this happening to people more than once!).
However sometimes the body needs a break, as well as the mind. Especially after a big race. Year round training can take it’s toll. If you are not taking periods to fully recover, it can be hard to move on successfully to the next level and improve your running. If you notice your performance has plateaued year after year, you may want to take a look at how you periodize, or loosely, arrange, your running seasons. Your body may need a break!
If you are nervous about it, try a different sport for a bit, lift weights, vary the way you use your muscles. If you are scared you won’t get back to it, ask a friend to pick it back up with you after even a couple of weeks.
The past few months I have been a partial “snowbird”, spending time in Florida for an American Council on Exercise fitness instructor certification as well as acting as a pace group leader for the Jacksonville Marathon. Then, Iowa to complete Wellcoaches Wellness Coach training, and on to Arizona for sunshine and planning next steps. I’ve also had a great experience studying and running 50-100K ultramarathons.
The final ultra was the Black Canyon 100K, a Western States 100 qualifier, on my birthday, Feb 13. Although I beat the WS 100 qualification time by almost two hours, it was tough and I had come down with rhabdomyolysis. This is a condition caused by muscle breakdown, so I needed rest.
I take breaks from strict diet and training after a key race in any case. But I’ve noticed that many freak out at missing exercise or falling off their normal diet. Granted, a huge food bender may not be so healthy, but why make it worse by adding a huge dollop of guilt?
Even if it was not a planned diet or exercise break, realize that we all do the best we can in each moment. There are times the body needs to recharge, and perhaps you needed it at that particular moment. Evaluate honestly where you are, and move on from there.
And, schedule in some time to give your body and mind a break. You probably deserve it!