A Break From Training

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About two weeks ago I decided to take a break with training. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still running most morning and have every intention to train hard for Boston in the spring. But right now, I just need a mental and physical break from being tied to a training plan.

I think it’s partially because I’m adjusting to a new normal for me and my family and I’m trying to find that happy balance where I don’t feel like I’m running myself ragged. I think it’s also partially because I am a bit worn out from a long, hard training cycle. I was pumped up after Wineglass and had plans to put my head down and continue working hard through Boston. But my body, heart and mind are not in it right now.

The truth is, for a few weeks, I didn’t have much of a desire to run long on the weekends. Zero desire to run 8 miles every day. Zero desire to run in the freezing cold.

And I was getting annoyed with myself and frustrated that I wasn’t running the mileage outlined in my training plan.

But, I took a step back. I’ve been running long enough to know that I was starting to show signs of overtraining and / or exhaustion. So, I decided to put on the brakes.

My plan is to have no plan for the next 5-6 weeks. Run when I want – hard, easy, long, short. Taking cues from my body. Maintaining a decent base but not stressing or worrying about building or improving until the new year. I’m in between training cycles – so this is the perfect time for me to relax a bit.

My body needs this downtime to recover and rest before building again. 

I am still setting my alarm most mornings. If I feel awake and rested enough, I’ll get up and decide what my body is up to that day. Last Monday, it only wanted to run 5 miles outside. It was still early (5:25am), so I came in, hopped on the bike for 25 min and then did a mini-strength workout. Wednesday, I was excited to run hard so I did a speed workout. Friday, I went back to sleep (it was glorious).  Yesterday, I wanted to stay inside on the treadmill and I watched Scandal while I did some hillwork.

There are times when it’s good to follow the plan and push your body. But there are a lot of periods when it’s important to let your body dictate the plan. After Boston, I took it easy for a short time and then jumped into training. I think this was possible because I wasn’t working out of the house – I was able to catch up on sleep and recover while still running. This time it’s different. My body seems to be craving sleep and rest. I’m on the “go” much more these days and I don’t think I gave myself the break it needed after Wineglass and Chicago and a successful training cycle.

It’s been a good two weeks. I had a great couple of hard runs the last 10 days but more importantly, I feel more rested and excited to start training when it’s time.

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Go Fish!

Here are some of the highlights from the last two weeks:

11/18: 4 x 1600, 2 x 800
This was a fun workout. I decided to try some 1600s – I haven’t done intervals in a long time and wanted to do something shorter and faster. I planned on 5 but after the 4th, decided to do a couple of faster 800s instead. It was a tough, but satisfying speed workout!

  • 2 up: 8:11, 7:58
  • 4 x 1600: 6:27, 6:22, 6:18, 6:14 (3:00 active recovery after each)
  • 2 x 800: 3:00, 2:58 (1:30 active recovery)

11/21: 15 miles (7:22 pace)
I knew there was no way I was going to wake up early and run on Saturday. I had a work call from 11-1:30am on Friday evening, so slept in until my little guys came in our room around 6am. The morning was filled with Go Fish, soccer practice and errands and then a nap. I had mostly resigned myself to skipping the long run for the weekend because I typically lose motivation to run as the day goes on. But after the nap and a ½ cup of coffee, I felt awake and ready to run some miles.

I had no concrete plans for distance. I was hoping for at least double digits, maybe 12-13 if I felt good. I used Strava on my phone so there would be no temptation with pace or pushing too hard – and didn’t check it until about 13.5 miles in when I wanted to see how far I had already gone.

It was one of those runs where you just feel really good. The pace feels effortless, legs feel light and stride feels comfortable and fast – all while your heart rate is under control. I never know which route I will take – so I went south first, then headed north and decided to keep going so that I could get some good hills in the run. At that point, I knew where to turn to make it 11, 13 or 15 miles – and decided to just go for it since I felt so good. It was the longest run since Chicago and Wineglass at the start of September – and it felt good to run that distance again.

1: 7:50
2: 7:33
3: 7:33
4: 7:35
5: 7:45
6: 7:32
7: 7:31:
8: 7:24
9: 7:27
10: 7:14
11: 7:11
12: 7:13
13: 7:04
14: 6:57
15: 6:50
15 miles: 7:22 pace

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11/23: 8 miles (8:04 pace)
During Boston training last year, I began doing my Monday runs on the treadmill so I could focus on some good, hard hillwork. I would do mid-length segments at 4.5-5% incline for 6-10 miles. I really think my Monday treadmill runs helped me with the Boston hills.

I did a 2 mile warmup (8:19, 8:02) and then spent the next 6 miles running 3:30 at 4.5% incline and 3:30 at 1% incline. All at 8:00 pace.

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Hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving!!! <3

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    6 thoughts on “A Break From Training

    1. That was a really good 15 mile run, especially as it was your first time running this distance since doing your marathon. It sounds like your body is responding to the rest you’ve given it and you’re totally right about sometimes just needing a mental break from training more than anything else. I often find that after a few weeks of a break, I’m dying to get back to it again and have re-ignited that excitement/enthusiasm to train again.
      Fiona recently posted..To Short or Too Short? Winter Running GearMy Profile

    2. Loves this post! After my Steamtown Marathon this fall I was experiencing the same signs you mentioned – no desire to do what my calendar said and get all of the sleep. I beat myself up for several weeks before I finally accepted that I can still be a runner and NOT be on a training plan. It’s been a glorious few weeks of napping and doing whatever I like. I too have Boston 2016 on the horizon so I look forward to being fresh for that training cycle. I like the idea of Monday hilly runs on the treadmill – I’ll keep that in mind!

    3. Have a happy Thanksgiving! This makes me feel a little better about my lack of following a training plan right now. I think that it is a combination of the busy schedule of the holidays, the days becoming shorter, mixed with working full time and the regular daily duties. I love to follow your training and races (I was the creeper who told you that I loved your blog at the Wineglass Marathon), and it is refreshing to know that you too are human and that it is ok to take a step back sometimes.
      Melissa @ girlchasingpavement recently posted..Super Serious Turkey Trot RecapMy Profile

    4. Sounds like you are doing exactly what your body needs! That’s wonderful! I took a good month after Chicago and now I am slowly working back into a speed training schedule, but doing it with a lot less stress. I’m just not mentally there yet to start training for Boston, and when I am I’ll start it!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Weekly Running Recap: 11/16/15-11/22/15My Profile