Time off from running isn’t new to me. As a catch-up for newer readers: last year I spent about four months in recovery from a metatarsal stress fracture. I started back up at the end of January, ran regularly (including two half-marathons) and then, well, we know how this marathon cycle turned out.
After seven years of no real injuries and many races, including two full marathons, this year has certainly been a 180 from my normal. I’m not a special snowflake as I know the words “running” and “injury” are often used in the same sentence. However, I’d like to consider myself experienced enough to talk about time OFF from running, both the mental and physical sides. All experience is good experience, right?
Thinking Out Loud today about some lessons, both big and small, from life on the sidelines.
Lessons From Life Not On The Run
Running should be a “get to do” not a “have to do”
I’ve said it before, but my favorite way to classify running is “a hobby that enhances my life.” It doesn’t control or consume it. When it becomes a “have to do” I think it’s time to re-evaluate.
Time off makes you smarter
Yes, time on the road does this too, but in a different way. I’m smarter now in the sense that I’m more in tune with my body. I can better grasp when a pain is a discomfort vs. a NO! BAD! pain. FYI: you don’t push through the latter. I’m cautious in my return because I want to make sure other parts of me are healthy too. For the first time, I’m focused on me as a whole person, not just the runner.
Similarly, injuries force you to address the “smaller” things that will help you stay healthy. During last year’s injury I added mobility work into my routine. This go-around I addressed my abnormal foot structure by finally investing in custom orthotics. When I’m ready to make my comeback, my feet will be happier than ever.
Strength training gives you so much bang for your buck
I’ve maintained some level of fitness just with 20-30 minutes of strength training a few times a week. It’s not the most intense workout but it produces results and, more importantly, some endorphins. I’m not a personal trainer or someone who likes the word “toned,” but running won’t give you a “toned” upper body. Pick up some heavy weights, do some rows, deadlifts and push-ups. You’ll thank me later.
Side note: I’m thinking of labeling 2016 the year of building strength. Mentally, physically, emotionally.
Rest days/weeks/months don’t need labels.
After three days of not running I stopped the labeling. They are just days! Take and use them without justification. You will not balloon up 10 pounds or break out in hives without running. <–I feel like a lot of people write something similar but there are still lingering fears. TRUST ME. Take a chill pill on this one.
Doctors are great, but they aren’t the end-all-be-all. Neither is the forum on Google tell you you’ll be out for a year.
Make sure to take off the rose-colored glasses. Meaning, remember that running isn’t the most glamorous or magical activity 24/7. It’s hard. It’s great, but it’s hard.
Be careful with social media. If you’re like me and social media can sometimes lead to feelings of inadequacy or comparison, SIGN OFF. LOG OFF.
Every runner should have a passion/hobby that has nothing to do with fitness.
When you aren’t running it seems like every. single. person is running. When you are running, you can feel like the only weirdo getting up at the crack of dawn. Know that both are skewed perceptions. (This one is a repeat from my post last year)
Running will be there when you return. And when you do return, run happy.