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I’m not entirely sure if I believe in fate, or if I believe that humans simply put a lot of faith and thought into things that should be chalked up to pure coincidence. Either way, my Garmin died a few days after my last race, and until today, I haven’t been able to turn it back on.
Confession: I love running. I’m sure you already knew that. But just like any relationship, just because I love running doesn’t mean that I always like running. Or that running is always good for me. Or that I don’t occasionally need a break from running.
(Cue Peter Cetera/Chicago here: “…everybody needs a little time awaaaaay…”)
Lately, running has not been good for me. For the past few months, the sport that has brought so much joy, and brought me out of some pretty dark holes in the past, was slowly beating me down into another dark place, and leaching the joy from every corner of my life. My body had gone beyond giving the quiet hints of overtraining, and was begging for a break. I’m not sure if it’s my age (37 isn’t old, but it’s also not my 20 year old body that could bounce back from practically anything, completely unscathed) or just the fact that my training had reached an all time peak without adequate breaks, but my body was pissed. And it protested in ways that I’ve never experienced before, physically and mentally, and hopefully, never have to experience again.
On the car ride back to the hotel from my Georgia Death Race DNF almost three weeks ago, I actually looked to see if I could defer my entry to the Vermont 100 from this summer to next summer. In the heat of that moment, the inquiry was probably from a place of frustration or disappointment from my GDR DNF. That was no surprise, of course. Post epic-crash-and-burn-failed race (yeah, I’ve been around this running world for a while), I typically find myself wanting to do one of two things: immediately focus all of my energy on the next goal race, or take a giant step back from racing all together. And in that moment, I needed a break from running. A long break.
Turns out, however, I couldn’t defer my entry. The race entry fee was a big one, and while the Hart household is truly living their dreams with the most kickass jobs, we still aren’t made of money. Not even close. So I couldn’t – I can’t -in good conscience NOT go to VT100.
But incase you haven’t noticed, I’ve taken a break from running anyway. Like I’ve had to tell clients, it’s better to show up to a race undertrained than not show up at all because of injury. Or in this case, extreme burnout. So I’ve taken time off, and will start a very conservative training approach…soon.
But not quite yet.
This time out and time off has been, well, great actually. It’s been nice to not stress about putting in my long runs on the weekends. It’s been nice to not feel utterly exhausted, all of the time. It’s been nice to put in a long strength training session at the gym and not worry about having to cut it short so I can squeeze in treadmill time. It’s been nice to not stress about whether or not I’m doing “enough”. It’s been nice to go home to visit family, and not have to excuse myself for a run, and instead spend that time with the people I love. It’s been nice to have the time to figure out a plan on how to focus energy towards everything else in life that gets dropped and left behind when I’m running a gazillion miles a week. Note I said “figure out a plan” and not actually execute it. Baby steps here, friends.
I’ve slept in, I’ve gone to bed early, I’ve spent extra time with my husband and kids, and I feel my old self starting to return. After 18 days of rest, I feel myself getting excited to start thinking about the next goal.
Wouldn’t you know, after fiddling with it for the last week and practically giving up on it – my Garmin mysteriously came back to life this morning. Almost as if the Universe was saying “OK, let’s start over, shall we?”
It feels silly to call the last 12 years of my running adventures a “career”, but I guess that’s what it is. And if I’ve learned anything during my running career (besides “don’t try anything new on race day” and “you think that chafing hurts now, wait until you get into the shower”) it’s this: if you need time off, take time off. Desptie what FOMO may try to tell you, running isn’t going anywhere, and believe it or not, a break, especially when it’s much needed, will probably make you stronger in the long run.
Pun totally intended.