Letting Myself Slide…Six months of Training Thoughts

It’s a very hard realization to make that you are nowhere near in the shape you were 6 months ago.  Letting myself slide with training, enjoying life and grabbing life by the horns as well as traveling have all played a major part in that.  6 months ago was around my birthday month in July when I was PRing in the 5k.  Oh how I wish I was back in that shape…but I’m not.

I can attest my falling out with running the day I broke my arm.  After being hit by a cyclist and breaking my arm I fell into a spiral of demotivation. Even though I only missed a few days of running and was able to run awkwardly with a broken arm, the real effect it put on me was mentally.

The day I broke my arm was the day I stopped doing speed workouts.  Since August I’ve only raced a handful of times and I haven’t done speed work by myself.  That is a major contender of why I’ve gotten out of peak running shape.  I know it is one of several factors.  While living in Texas I had very few racing options and I opted to log high mileage instead of speed work outs.

Moving on to the next major factor of my life, I’ve moved in with a significant other.  I don’t regret it and in fact I absolutely love it. I will always make time for him over my running time.  I’m not on my own personal schedule anymore and I’m okay with that.  I’ll always choose to go out to eat on a date versus staying home and cooking something.  I’m perfectly okay with that but it takes a toll on training.

It’s a hard realization to come to that you have both gotten slower in running and let your training fall through the cracks of life.  Breaking 20 minutes, a once easy task in the 5k is strenuous and difficult for me right now.  I don’t even know if I could break 1:30 in the half marathon.  Please don’t compare these times to yourself, imagine if you were currently struggling to run 90 seconds slower in your 5k or 6 minutes slower in a half marathon (probably more).  That is essentially where my training is at.

I know the last 6 months have not been conclusive to my running.  I’ve been enjoying life outside of running and enjoying doing other things that don’t revolve around blogging and working out.  However, it’s still a hard realization when running a race that I’m not the racer I was 6 months ago.  Quite frankly, it stinks.  All of that being said I’ve 100% enjoyed the last 6 months of my life and would never trade it for the world.  There is more to life then running, then blogging and working out.

I’m not making excuses or looking for sympathy I’m just objectively looking back at the last 6 months of training and realizing I have a lot of work to do.  Life isn’t all about training and I’ve come to learn that in the last 6 months.  I’ve come to enjoy that in the last 6 months.  It seems like a daunting task to get to where I want to be.  A task that I feel I might never conquer again.  I often wonder if I will ever PR in races again (silly worries).

With that there are exactly 98 days until the New Jersey half marathon.  Instead of making a PRing goal for myself, I’m going to make a goal to dig out of the run cave I’ve in and start training again.

For the next month I’m going to build consistent miles again.  After finding a base line February 23rd at the Lake Effect half marathon (granted the weather cooperates) I’ll reevaluate my training.

I needed a kick in the butt and that came this week when I got the flu and was unable to train or do much of anything.  I’m able to sit here and contemplate my life, my training and where I want to go with it.  While I have 100% enjoyed and been low stressed the last 6 months, I’m ready to get back into training.  I know it will take the better part of those 100 days to get back into shape but I’m ready to try to work back there.

 Questions for you:

Have you ever had a long lull in training?

Were you hit by the flu this season?  There is a lot going around!


45 thoughts on “Letting Myself Slide…Six months of Training Thoughts”

  1. I haven’t been hit by the flu, thank goodness! But a few friends have been and I don’t envy them at all, it is very bad this year. I hope you feel better soon.

    It is very tough to lose fitness or just not feel good running, life gets in the way, etc. But, you have your whole life to run and you can always start doing speedwork and get back into faster racing shape, etc…. you can’t always relive moments in life. Seems like you are really enjoying things with Tim and settling in now that you moved, too.

  2. Oh my gosh Hollie! Firstly I had no idea you broke your arm (so sorry 🙁 ) and secondly I am going through the same thing right now!!!! That is pretty much exactly what the post I did yesterday was talking about! I keep comparing myself to my build up to the marathon where I could run 6:15 pace for 20 miles and felt easy, now 30 seconds slower feels hard! It is tough, and we can support one another through this!

    I think setting a goal is a great way to get out of the lull, it is so hard, as like you said it is all relative, so the time that may be amazing for someone else, is disappointing for you, but you know how good you can be, and setting a goal for yourself will help motivate! If I can help in any way let me know! 🙂 Maybe a run sometime soon? 🙂

    1. LOL, yeah I was hit by a cyclist in August. It was the least intrusive break and I was able to run decently about a week after, however, I can pin point that to the day that my motivation went out the window.

      Time is relative. I’m hoping to be back under 1:30 and feel good (my main goal) running at the NJ half. That feels like light years away right now though!

  3. I’ve had a huge lull, missing about 2.5 years of consistent training. I got injured and missed 7 months, trained and came back to close to the same shape, injured again (both fluke accidents rather than training/running injuries), come back for a few months and then told by my doc to take another 8 off while we investigated potentially serious heart problems. I worry all the time that I’ll never PR again now that I’m building back from scratch after all of that. You’re not that far off even though it feels like it, when you’re ready to focus more intensely on your training, it’ll come back and you’ll set more PRs. In the meantime, I’m sure the mental break will turn out to have been a good thing for your running!

    1. I hate complaining when I read injury horror stories that have happened to people for years and years. I hope you do get back into the shape you were in and that your injuries are at bay again! 🙂

  4. this is kind of where I’m at now. I’ve been enjoying life, but if I want to hit my half goal it’s going to mean me committing a hell of a lot more. thankfully jason is also realizing this and cleaning up his eating, so hopefully that’s the kick in the butt I need to start getting more serious. we shall see

  5. This is a great post Hollie – sometimes its hard to not make excuses and just be objective with yourself. I had a 3 month lull in my training after my half in October – I’m just now feeling like I’m getting back into my base training. I think I honestly just needed a mental break from training, because I feel ready to get going again now.

  6. I think everybody goes through this! Once you get into the real world of balancing so many things, training for anything is bound to go out the window! There are so many things to fill time in life and it is hard when you live with somebody! I still always think if I go to the gym now and study later, I won’t get dinner with the BF. But sometimes I need the gym more haha. And still, At CF the other day, somebody complimented me on my fitness level and I couldn’t believe it. For my standard, I am WAY out of shape! But it’s good to do other things in life than just be so set on running (or anything really).

    1. I think it’s an important balance. I also think everyone’s standard is different. For instance, you might feel out of shape but to someone else you are living the in shape dream.

  7. YES to this ENTIRE post. Even though I’m nowhere near as fast as you, I totally relate to being out of racing shape/peak fitness now. We both know these periods of downtime are necessary, but it’s tough to get back to training afterward. I did my first “speedwork” session in months this past Wednesday, and it was very humbling. It’s easy to get discouraged, but we both know how to get back to peak fitness–and the training that’s required.

  8. I was doing some reading about the importance of not training really hard 365 days a year. Think of it as “seasons” if you will… a season of training really hard and being in tip top shape, and then a season of relaxation and easier training. This is a GOOD thing. This is a way to preserve your body, reduce fatigue, injury, and over training. I know as runners we feel like if we don’t continue to go as hard as normal, we are sliding back. But it’s not true. Look at this as part of the big picture of your running career. You wouldn’t want to train hard 100% of the time. You would lose your mojo much quicker. I’m not only telling you this to have you look on the bright side of your training being “derailed”, but to tell you that really, taking it easy is from time to time will help your running! I know you will work hard to get back where you want to be. You’ve done it before and you’ll do it again!

  9. Digging out may feel difficult, but in my experience, you’ll find that you’re able to get back there quickly! Our bodies remember and the break will have helped mentally and physically. You’ve set realistic goals – and you’ll do it! And congrats on the positive changes in your life!

  10. Oh, and I woke up with the flu or croup this AM! Taking it easy so hopefully it doesn’t derail this training cycle! 🙂

  11. I know what you mean! There are phases of my running where I am much less motivated to train hard and just want to live life well- and I think that’s okay. And then when the motivation comes back you can work hard and get back there… I know you can dig up those old paces again! Btw, I’m contemplating running the NJ half if running is still feeling good at that point… would love to meet up!

  12. I feel the same way as you. I know I have been running, but training for the marathon I really let my speed slide, I hardly ever pushed myself like I used to. I mostly attest that to my summer at camp, which is probably where the speed started to go, but then when I got home I kind of lost motivation and speed at the same time and it was training that brought my motivation back but not my speed. I too recently have spent a lot of time contemplating and I’ve given myself the kick up the butt I need – now I don’t have to go and run 20 miles on a sunday, I am signing up for 10ks and 1/2 marathons as a form of motivation but also to force me to bring some speed back, each race I will hope to push myself a bit more and hopefully see myself come back to where I was (it was races that made me faster last time).

    I look forward to following your training and I hope I follow your lead. (+ quite a few minutes on the old races times but to each their own!)

    You’ve got this. Getting back to where you were always does seem like a mammoth task, but you’ve done it before and so have I, and in fact last time I got faster, and I’m sure so will you!

    1. I hope so too. My biggest piece of advice (though I’m by no means an expert) is take about a month off after your marathon and then dig back into miles. That is what I wish I had done myself but alas I hope to do that next time.

  13. I’m in the middle of my training rut right now – it sucks. I was hit with a wicked sinus infection and couldn’t run, and then I caught an awful cold and couldn’t breathe, so I didn’t run. I ran all of 20k in December, it sucked. Now I have a half in 5 weeks and because I haven’t been running, I now have all these awful aches and pains (stupid IT band) cropping up and I’m super frustrated 🙁 I’m definitely not in the same running shape I was in Sept/Oct.

  14. I took a solid chunk of time off serious bike training, and my functional threshold power went down SO FAR in 3 months – that wasn’t even “not biking” just “not focusing on biking or doing hard workouts.”

    The good news is that after 6 weeks of solid bike training, my functional threshold power was actually 8% higher than it had been before my mini break. So I think after some loss of fitness, the recovery time will actually pay dividends once you start putting in the work. Go get it.

      1. P.S. Listen to your body. Sit on the couch.

        P.P.S. Seriously, though, yes, recovery time is needed, but to use that repair and rejuvenation time to get faster, you THEN have to put in the ass-kicking work. That’s what some people don’t get.

  15. I think a break from strenuous training is probably what you mind AND body needed then–it happened for a reason! you can get right back on that horse though, you’re dedicated, motivated & love it. And those are the things that matter.
    I’ve been in a running lull since that huge knee injury/gash I got back in August. I lost all my endurance to run and consequently lost enjoyment in it. I don’t find it fun huffing and puffing after a mile anymore. But I’m working on incorporating running and cardio back into my routine.
    I’ve been lucky to dodge the flu–there’s so much crap going around though. A co-worker was so sick with flu that he ended up ripping his esophagus (no idea if I can spell that right…) and was in hospital for days. Heal quickly.
    Can’t wait to see the big things you do, Hollie!

  16. I really think you can get back to the peak of your training again. You have incredible focus. Keep going and keep sharing, you are inspirational

  17. It’s exactly like you said, as long as you are enjoying your life right now, that’s all that matters. You will get back to peak shape, and will get even faster, I have no doubt. Your body will really thank you, taking that long of a break from racing hard, will only make you stronger in the end!

    I’m struggling too w/ speed right now, it’s a bit depressing, but it is what it is. As you know, I had the flu last week, and the dizziness didn’t go away until Thursday I think? It really takes a toll on your body, so wait until your healthy to start those speed sessions. 🙂 Feel better!

  18. Great article, Hollie! I definitely understand your feelings. We all go through a rut at some point or another. The important part is to go with how you feel and do as you did, “grab it by its horns”. Enjoy life and be in love! Sure, in the end we “hate” ourselves bc we let ourselves go from training and what have you. The worst part is also once you realize this and struggle to do the workouts you were once doing. My wife and I went through this rut together a few times and then we discuss it and motivate each other–to eat healthy, exercise together, or motivate each other when we do not exercise together. Point being, we push each other and support one another to excel and do “our personal” best. Talk to your significant other about if it is that important to you and take your time getting back into it so you do not get injured! Keep it up and happy training! 🙂 ~Joshua

  19. It’s good to take a break and let the body recover. It does however, as you have mentioned, drop the fitness levels drastically. I tore my calf muscle at the beginning of last year and had 6 weeks off. Coming back into running was so hard. Just a 38 min run left my legs dead. Once we started making progress my back was put out of joint and we had to take it easy for a while but not start back from scratch. 6 weeks ago I could only just run a 21:32min 5km and that was quite disheartening. Now I can break 20 minutes (as you know), so I don’t think you are far off from getting close to PR’ing given that you have a consistent and methodical approach to your running. Hang in there.

  20. I don’t think you’ve let yourself slide – I think you’ve had a lot of other things going on in your life, and after the chaos of moving it’s no wonder you needed a break from extremely tough workouts. You will get back to your prior level of fitness, and I have no doubt you’re capable of running even faster with time.

    That said, I absolutely understand the frustration of feeling out of shape. Times I could just breeze through, particularly in the 10K and the half, seem utterly unachievable now. I never had a particularly long break from training, but a combination of injury and weight gain saw my running form deteriorate horribly and thus my times are never likely to be what they were. I’m really hoping to be more proactive in getting some answers regarding what I can do to improve again though…all that keeps me going is thinking and wishing that these couple of years of slower times are something I will look back on as trials that made me stronger in the long run.

  21. Your body needs breaks. I think it helps more than hurts (even though I have been a little go go go these days). I am honestly still coming back. At 30 weeks pregnant I stopped running. I didn’t start again until about 14 weeks after that so a good 24 weeks of no running. Everyone said it would be easy to run post pregnancy and I would be faster. That has not been my journey. It is not easy when you were once faster than you were. I know. But its in there somewhere. You will get there. Enjoy the journey, have a blast!

    1. I agree that your body needs breaks! I took a lot more of a break then I needed if that makes sense. I just chose other things (which is fine) it’s just going to take a long process to get back to fitness!

  22. Sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well, girl 🙁 There really does seem to be an epidemic happening right now… A lot of people I know have gotten sick, and even both my parents got it around Christmas. I’ve managed to avoid it thus far, but I’m just waiting until the day I wake up feeling like crap. Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen.

    As for training… I’ve definitely gone through periods where I’ve become a lot more lax with my habits. I’m just getting back into snowboarding big time this season, and I’ve definitely noticed the effects of not keeping my fitness up as much as I have in the past. Ahh well — it happens. Sometimes the body just needs a break, and you come back even stronger.

  23. Wow, Hollie- I had no idea that you got hit by a bike! Of course that would have put a damper on your training goals or overall fitness.

    Regarding being in a new relationship and how that has associated with it- I have seen this amongst several of my friends and honestly, it’s time cherished- especially if it’s something new to you. Having a sickness now putting you MIA in most things (I can relate…damn flu!) can definitely put everything in perspective! Here’s to a upcoming progress! 🙂

    1. It was a tourist not paying attention-it wasn’t the worst possible break but it set me in a bad place mentally.

      We’ve been dating for a long time but living together has been a new and exciting adventure!

  24. So funny because having seen your times I wouldn’t have guessed at all that you were feeling out of shape or off your best. I would say that this last full year of training has been my best, mostly because i never got injured and I stayed healthy. I am consistently working to push myself though because it’s much easier for me to stay at my safe comfortable pace all the time.

  25. Glad you’ve been living your life…running will always be there but living your life and enjoying your time with Tim is something you’ll never regret! It’s not like you haven’t been active!

  26. You said everything I’m feeling. I am really struggling to train for my February half marathon… and I am no where near my peak speeds that I was back in September. Its so, so frustrating and disappointing and it makes it that much harder to have motivation to train! I know come spring running will be easier – this Michigan winter has just been tough – and I know focusing on 5ks again will help with the half marathon burnout… but man. Training droughts are the WORST!!!

  27. I think the most important thing here is that you recognize the necessity of balance. If you had kept up that training schedule for the last six months, you wouldn’t have those dinners and dates to fondly look back on.

  28. I’ve been reading on the topic of rest and recovery – an underappreciated aspect of training. I think taking six months easy (or, more accurately, easier) just might pay off into an even Hollie in 2014. Check out Sage Roundtree’s The Athlete’s Guid to Recovery: Rest, Relax, and Restore for Peak Performance. Best wishes! Kristen

  29. It’s kind of weird how one small change can break our cycle, you know? For me, this happened in May 2011 when I went through a string of injuries. I never quite recovered my mojo, but I had a lot going on (mentally, as well as physically) that I didn’t take into consideration. Hopefully I’ll regain my love for training this year.
    I also hope you’ll get back to where you want to be, too. It was a busy year for you and now that everything is sorta calming down, there is more time to get into a comfortable routine. It’s nice that you’re willing to put running on the back burner for dates, though!

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