Top 10 Signs You Need a Running Break

I’m a big fan of Top 10 lists.  My first creative writing assignment senior year was a top ten list of sarcastic suggestions to survive high school.  Still one of my favorite pieces, tucked away in a scrap-book, a good reminder of how much I loved to write then (and still do now).  I’ve wanted to convey how I figured out that I needed a running break and it only seems appropriate to tell you about the ten-ish reasons it was necessary.  If you’re on the fence about whether or not to take a break, maybe you’ll see yourself in this list.

1.  You go from running without music to SUDDENLY NEEDING ANYTHING TO LISTEN TO IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. My iPod had lain untouched, uncharged for months before early November. My summer training had been highly focused on time and pace and I simply didn’t have room for music, then I didn’t need it anymore.  Then post-MCM, running without music seemed impossible. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts anymore.  Bad sign.

2.  You hate every route you’ve ever run.  That loop you’ve been doing around your house for the past 6 months?  The one you can make between 1 and 10 miles long?  Every inch of it makes you want to burn your city to the ground.  You know every crack in the pavement, every uneven sidewalk and every dog that is regularly unleashed.  You hate all of them.  Suddenly, driving an hour just to see something new becomes critical for your survival.

3.  You dread the idea of putting on a sports bra.  You know what’s great about yoga?  I can throw on a tank top and walk out the door. Ladies, let’s be honest-running prep is not so easy.

4.  You are using the word “weary” to describe yourself.  I spent the first weeks post-marathon tired. Thrilled to death with my PR, but weary.  Tired.  My body was adjusting to a whole lot less adrenaline and I was simply weary.

5.  YOGA IS THE GREATEST THING EVER.  My first few yoga classes that took the place of my running workouts were amazing.  I think the sheer “newness” of it made it wonderful.  Now, a few weeks later, I know it truly is wonderful, but those first few classes were a breath of fresh air.

6.  You remember how you used to have friends.  I have amazing running friends.  Love them, love their stories of victory, their tales of running heartbreak, our shared language.  But post-marathon, I remembered how nice it was to see and spend time with my non-running friends.  To go to a restaurant or bar and not plan my whole night around my run the following morning.

7.  You are straight-up hurting.  My IT Band was angry post-MCM.  A change of shoe model, unexpected road issues and a lack of stretching and rolling had left my right band irritated.  I wanted to keep running and was Google-ing solutions like a fiend.  The reality?  Rest is best.  Ice and stretching important.  Cue yoga and a nightly love affair with an ice pack.

8. You recall that you used to have other hobbies.  For instance, I used to knit.  The laundry basket full of unused yarn in my bedroom closet serves as a good reminder of that.  I’d like to sit quietly and knit.  I’d like to read a book.  I now have the time to do so.

9.  Your remember what it felt like to be in bed after 6:00am on a weekend.  My weekends have been pretty consistent for the past year or so.  Up early Saturday to get s*$% done, up early Sunday to get my long run in.  Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.  Then I laid in bed one Sunday morning and remembered how lovely it was.

10.  You are not at peace with the idea of a break, until suddenly you are.  The first few days I skipped running, I was antsy.  I felt like a caged animal.  I struggled with idea of losing what fitness gains I had made.  I worried that my running would stop all together, that I’d be back to square one if I tried to start again.  Slowly, and with some radical self-acceptance, I’ve grown to be OK with the break.  It’s been over a week since I’ve run.  9 days to be exact.  And I’m good.  I’m focusing on strength training, light cardio and practicing yoga at least twice a week. My IT band is starting to feel better and I’ll be ready to go back to the road.  Maybe soon. Maybe not. I want to be healthy when I start again.  I’m willing to wait. And I’m ok with the wait now.

I’d love to hear about your breaks from running, or whatever sport you focus on. How did you feel before, during and after you took time off?

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Signs You Need a Running Break

  1. ClevelandJoe @ The Frolicking Fells November 26, 2013 / 8:54 pm

    I’ve been on a “break” of sorts. It’s not a true break, because I’ve been doing short mileage here and there, but I’m not logging anywhere near the type of miles that I logged during marathon training.

    Ever since the Towpath Half, I’ve missed the cycle of going to bed on Friday night knowing that I had a long run ahead of me and springing up on Saturday morning because I couldn’t wait to hit the Towpath for a long run. Although marathon training was time-consuming, I knew that I liked it when I would wake up at 8:00AM on a Saturday and feel like I had slept for 12 hours because I was so excited about running new distances in new places and continually “wowing” myself along the journey to 26.2.

    That feeling really hasn’t been there since the Towpath Half. Sheila’s been taking ceramics at Tri-C on Saturday morning, and some of my Saturday mornings have felt a bit aimless and listless as I’ve puttered around the house doing work, cleaning, watching college football, and taking the dog for a walk.

    People laugh at guys like Bernie Kosar, Brett Favre, etc, who can’t give up the game of football and the football lifestyle, but after this experience, I can see exactly what they’ve gone through. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for them to wake up on a Sunday and know that they’re not going to be behind center making highlight-reel plays and building their legend.

    While the emotional side of me tells me that this stinks, the rational side of me tells me that my body will thank me for this in 2014. I know that my body needs time to heal. My left knee tells me that it needs time off from long distances almost every day. This is the first calendar year in which I’ve ran all year long (I only picked it up in June 2012), and I’m surprised that my body has held up as well as it has considering I’ve done 1 five miler, 2 halfs, 1 full, 1 10miler, and multiple 5Ks in addition to all of the training runs that go into the whole process. Also, it has helped that the recent weather has been horrible. Nothing makes me appreciate forced rest more than running directly into frigid wind!

    I definitely hear you about the hobbies and reading. I read 40 pages of the newest John Grisham book last weekend and it was incredible.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Alicia November 27, 2013 / 8:13 am

    I just wrote about this on my blog, which is why my friend Susan referred me to your post this morning! I can certainly relate to many of these. For me, I knew I needed a break when I dreaded running and actually started to resent it. Also, I had an overuse injury, so I knew in my heart I needed to take some time off – but it took me nearly a month to finally be at peace with the idea of rest 🙂

    • gorunjess November 27, 2013 / 8:15 am

      I think it’s that time of year Alicia! We all have to own up to needing to take care of ourselves. 🙂 Thanks for reading and good luck with your down time. Here’s to a healthy 2014!

  3. Angela December 20, 2013 / 9:49 pm

    OMG, the hating of the usual route! So. Much. Hate. I am not quite to the point of driving somewhere else in order to not look at it, but once the light comes back I may seriously consider it.

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