Maybe the absolute toughest aspect of loving the sport of running (or any activity for that matter) is taking time off when it’s unplanned. In a world filled with analytical tech, the most thorough and accurate data tool is your body. Too often we either ignore it, or we fill our lives with too much useless noise to hear it. If you listen to your body carefully, it will tell you when to take a break and slow down. That being said, here are a couple signs that it’s probably time to take a short break from your running to rest and recover…
- Your times/paces on regular runs are slowing down. The effort to run your “easy” pace actually feels harder.
- Your energy level throughout your daily activities is down.
- You are sick! Overtraining really weakens the immune system. There’s a good chance you got sick because you’re burnt out physically.
- You have an ache that is not present when you start running, but gets progressively worse the longer you run. (Often in your knees, hips, or shins)
- It has become hard for you to just get out the door. Sometimes we need more of a mental break than a physical break!
(The same could be said about our time at work, but that’s a story for another day!) In the meantime, slow down a bit and listen to what your body is telling you about how you’re REALLY feeling. Sometimes it’s a whisper, while other times our body gets pretty noisy about it.
I’m personally dealing with one of those noisy times, a knee that’s out of whack from some trail racing on rough terrain. It’s a frustrating setback, because I had some upcoming races and goals that I know cannot be met. (YET!) However, it’s important to remember that a “setback” is really just a “setup for a comeback.” (I’ve heard this too many places to attribute it to one person.)
We have the power to choose how we frame any event that might happen in our lives. Pick the positive outlook. When it comes to running, an injury is an opportunity to become a BETTER runner! Use the time that you would have otherwise been running to work on any of the following so that you have some improved routines when you do return to running…
READ AND RESEARCH. Maybe you’re wondering about a certain type of training, such as tempo running. Read up and get learned! Find a training theory book like The Daniels Running Formula (Daniels) or The Science of Running (Magness). Learn about some running history with a book like The Perfect Mile (Bascomb). There’s even some cool running fiction out there, such as the cult classic Once a Runner (Parker Jr.). If you have a particular injury, seek to learn about what exercises and supplemental work you can do to prevent it from happening again. Has a certain muscle group been sore? Read up about some new stretches to hit that area. Speaking if stretches…
STRETCH! Over the last year or so, I’ve starting doing regular yoga and it’s been amazing for active recovery, injury prevention, and just feeling better during the day. If you’re looking for a place to start, just search “yoga” on YouTube.” I’ve been following along with the “Yoga With Adriene” channel. Lots of options there. If you don’t mind spending a little money, I also use DDP Yoga. It’s a little hokey, but effective, and that’s right up my alley.
MEAL PREP. I’m a huge advocate of getting more protein into breakfast. It’ll keep your weight down and help with workout recovery. For many people, breakfast is often rushed. If you’d like an omelet pre-made and ready to go, try this: Mix together some eggs, egg whites, cheese, bacon, spinach (anything else that you’d like to throw in an omelet!) in a bowl. Pour the mixture into a muffin pan. Throw it in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350. Now you have 12 pre-made omelets ready to rock. Keep them in the fridge, and just warm them up in the microwave when you’re ready. I also prep salads for lunches during the week as well to stay balanced with my greens.
SHOP! Do some shoe research, and you might find that there are better options for your particular feet and stride. Hit up a local specialty store like Flying Feet and get fitted. Take the time to upgrade your wearables if needed. If you’re looking to make the move to a GPS watch, there are cheaper options out there like the Garmin Forerunner 25 ($100). Audit the running clothes that you have to determine what’s missing, and go looking for deals on socks, shorts, and shirts. It’s always a good idea to reach out to other runners and ask for recommendations on clothing options.
VOLUNTEER! This option might not directly lead to you being a better runner, but boy oh boy will it make you appreciate race directors and the hard work that goes into putting on the races we love to run. If you’re not sure how to volunteer, just look for the contact information on any race application. If you reach out saying that you’d like to volunteer, I guarantee you’ll get a pretty prompt reply!
These are just a few ideas. The only bad idea is feeling bad about your situation. Don’t do it! Spin it positive. Keep improving. Keep moving forward!!!