At times, running can become a chore. Sometimes you don't feel like following a plan. Getting up a o' dark hundred is no longer appealing. Has this ever happened to you? Over the last 8 months, I have run 3 marathons with a 4th to come in less than 4 months. In other words, I have been "in marathon training" for a long time. While running is a passion and I love racing and training, the last few months have been a struggle with my mind and body.
Taking a step back, certain things came into focus including long term health and a body that did not feel constantly worn down. Here are some things that I have done to make the month of June a good one in terms of fitness and well being.
1. No coached running for the entire month. While I do not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) it was hard to break from my group runs and take my time doing what I wanted when I wanted in terms of running. Each week I have stayed focused on keeping up running, but just not in the competitive setting that I normally embrace joyfully. My body and mind needed time off from speed work at the track and Tuesday night practice which could vary from tempo runs to timed sprints.
2. Reevaluate your long term goals Taking a break has given me a chance to reestablish what I hope to accomplish with running over the next few years. My goal is to run into my 70's and to be able to do that means staying healthy. and fit for a very long time. Goals should evolve and while my main focus is the marathon majors, I won't quit running marathons once they are checked off my list. What works for me may not work for you, but having a short list of goals with some to complete in a month and some in years works best.
3. Choose your races carefully A few years ago, running one and maybe two races a month was something I enjoyed and looked forward to between training runs. While this may be optimal for some in terms of their pocketbook and running stamina, it got to be fairly taxing for me. I prefer to run fewer races with some aggressive time goals versus many races at training pace. Figure out what works best for you and don't be lured into something because your running pals are involved.
4. Do a few different activity to test your muscles This week I tried a deep water aerobics class and while some consider this a senior activity, it can be quite a challenging workout. Try being in deep water for an hour with no flotation belt. Classes are another good way to test various muscles groups and summer time is great for swimming and biking. Since my break, I have really enjoyed being outside including golf, walking the dog, swimming, and biking. My bike won't break speed records, but if you work up a sweat, even on a beach cruiser, it is getting a job done.
5. Decide when to get back in the game While one month may be enough for me, I will probably take a break after my fall marathon (Chicago) to regroup again and make my plans for 2017. Everyone has outside diversions from their race calendar, so decide what is important and figure out when to get yourself focused on your next big goal. A special race, a PR goal or something else may give you the push to get back to serious training.
Being enthusiastic going back to a training plan will be key for my success at my fall races. Hopefully by July 1st, I will be ready for that challenge. My Chicago training plan will be finalized soon and then it will be time to get busy running, cross training and including all those extras such as stretching, rolling and some Yoga.
Have you ever taken a much needed long break from running with a plan?