Why a Running Break is Necessary

To summarize my training last week, I ran once on Monday.  Then I got sick and slept for three days straight.  Not exaggerating, but I slept over 16 hours daily for three days.  By the fourth day, I still had a headache and didn’t want to run.  Finally, by day 5, I was already five days into not running, so I thought: “why not just extend my running break longer?”  I didn’t miss running at all. 
Why a running break is neccessary

So to recap, I ran once and haven’t run since Monday.  My plan this summer was to take an extended break from running and now worked out well.  I’m not sure how long I’ll take off, but I’ll run when I’m mentally ready to run again.

Instead of writing a traditional training post, I’ll talk about some reasons for resting.  The idea of rest isn’t new, unusual, or life-changing.  It’s essential for every single runner, new or old, elite or not, to take rest.

So what are some worries of taking a break from running?

Worry 1: You Worry about Losing Fitness

You aren’t running, and your body will lose fitness, and your vo2 max will decrease.  It’s a real statement.  The longer you don’t run and reduce your weekly mileage, the more likely you are to lose fitness.  However, studies show, you will gain fitness back quickly, and you will come back stronger.  A few weeks of training isn’t a big deal, and the benefits of taking the rest outweigh the consequence of losing fitness.

Worry 2: You’ll Gain Weight

I’ve gained a few pounds every time I’ve been injured.  That’s my body’s way of saying: “Hey, you are doing the recovery thing right.”  I used to think not running meant I should cross-train or strength train as much as I ran, but that isn’t the case.  Allowing your body rest might cause weight gain, but once you start running again, you will lose whatever you might have gained.

Yes, you might gain a few pounds but if you don’t rest and recover, the rest period doesn’t do you any good.  To clarify, I don’t think it’s easy and all rainbows and butterflies to take weeks off of running, but it’s necessary. 

For me, I’ve been running nonstop for about a year.  I’ve had cut back weeks and mini taper weeks but nothing considered significant rest.

My last two months of running, I’ve felt all of the following:

  • Physical Burnout: I’ve had more bad runs than good runs…
  • Mental Burnout: I’ve had more days I’ve felt like running is a chore and not a hobby.
  • Minor aches, issues, and pains: my butt hurt after Shamrock and metatarsal pain last month.

Most of the time, my running breaks come from a serious related running injury. Being injured forces me to take time off and give myself a break.  After resting, I come back stronger.  Since this break isn’t caused by an issue, it’s hard to “just take time off.”  I can rest when I want too, so I’ve pushed it off until tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow.

So what are the benefits of full running rest?

Not reduced mileage but full running rest and running o times a week.

Physical benefits:
  • Recovery: First and foremost, you’ll recover from months of possible damage to your body. The damage includes both hard races and just hard training cycles. Your body will recover from the stress that you’ve put on it.  You might not realize that you had several small aches and pains forming.
  • Injury Risk: Your injury risk goes much further down. It doesn’t matter your fitness level; a running break is the best form of injury prevention.

Mental Benefits:

  • Mental Recharge: This is the most important for me right now.  Mentally my heart isn’t into running, and it’s giving me time to recharge and do other things with my life.  When I miss running, I’ll start running.  It could be a week; it could be a month. You can’t run hard seven days a week and expect to run long term.
  • More Time: When you’re not following a training plan or training program, you have plenty of extra time to relax and get other things done.

Finally, How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Break?

  • First and foremost, actually rest.  Don’t substitute over cross-training for everything.  Sure, working out occasionally is fine but take your rest as serious as a big race and racing season.
  • Don’t fear weight gain: Like anything, your fitness is based on months and years.  You might lose fitness or gain weight, but you’ll get back to where you want to be when you return to running.

I can’t tell you how long my running rest will be.  Maybe I’ll run in another week, but perhaps it will be longer.  I did get in the pool on Sunday, which was more enjoyable than anticipated.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Outside of an injury, have you taken a break from running?

Have you felt burnt out from something before?

 

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton)

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton)

Last month I celebrated my 100th New Jersey Diner. While I’ve been to several diners out of state and even repeated a few, The Silver Coin Diner was my 100th different diner in the state of New Jersey.   I do plan to have a recap sometime later next week.

Both my parents and in-laws were in town and got to celebrate with me as well.  I didn’t wait for the Silver Coin to be number 100, it just happened that way!  Since it was late after work, we decided to meet at a more local diner, the Silver Coin Diner in Hammonton, NJ. A fun fact about Hammonton is it’s the Blueberry capital of the country.  It’s a beautiful local town.

Getting to the Silver Coin Diner wasn’t challenging.  It’s located right off the White Horse Pike and easy to get too.

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton) Atmosphere: F

I should preface this with the outside of the Silver Coin Diner is a cute, old shiny metallic building.  It’s a picture-perfect stereotypical diner.

Silver Coin Diner

The inside of the Silver Coin Diner has the typical diner layout of a bar, multiple booths, and tables.  You’re probably wondering, how does it fail?

The tables were on top of each other.  They were so close both the waitress and host asked us multiple times to move the position of how we were sitting so they could get around the table.  It felt like they were trying to put ten tables in a space only three should have been.  What bothered me the most was the emergency exit door was covered by another table.  If there is an emergency, you wouldn’t be able to get out of the door.

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton) Service: C
The waitress at the Silver Coin Diner was friendly, and she refilled our water, coffee, and food.  She made an ironic comment about “how much I ate” which I didn’t appreciate but other than the comment I don’t have any complaints.

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton) Coffee: A
The Silver Coin Diner uses the local brew Lacas coffee.  I enjoyed my coffee and didn’t have any complaints.  The coffee was my favorite part of the experience.

Silver Coin Diner

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton) Food: C
The menu at the Silver Coin Diner is smaller than most diners.  There are all of the typical breakfast options including pancakes, eggs benedict, Canadian bacon, and home fries.

I ordered a Greek salad with salmon and extra pita bread.  The waitress said the salad came with pita, but I was running the next day and wanted extra.  When the food came out, it came with a small plate of bread.  I assumed I would just receive two plates but didn’t.

The salad itself was mediocre.  The salad itself was small with watery lettuce.  I wasn’t impressed and still hungry afterward.  I felt like I could have eaten 2-3 more meals.  It was ironic because afterwords the waitress kept saying how impressed she was that I finished the salad.

What saved the salad from failing was the salmon which was cooked well.

Silver Coin Diner

If I come back, I’ll be getting just the salmon or something different all together.

Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton) Cost: $$$
For my coffee and salad, the cost was $16 which was expensive for the portion size and quality.

Summary/Would I come back to the Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton)?
The Silver Coin Diner was ok but not my favorite.  I was disappointed after hearing great things about the Silver Coin Diner, and I doubt I’ll be back.

Overall:
Atmosphere: F
Service: C
Coffee: A
Food: C
Cost: $8-15
Overall: C

You can see all of the diner reviews here.

Questions for you:
What’s the strangest restaurant layout you’ve been too?
Do you like blueberries?

Cross Country 5k (19:20)

The morning after running a mile track race, my husband convinced me to do a cross country style race.  He’s into the trail and cross country races, and I’m more into the road races.  It worked out well since with cross country terrain; you can’t compare yourself to anything. If you are running through a giant mud pit, you won’t run as fast as the road.  So I was easily able to throw my expectations right out of the window…

Cross Country Race running

We arrived at the start around 8 am and warmed up. Not surprisingly, I felt tight and sore after racing the evening before. I had no goals and wanted to run.  Something I haven’t been able to do much of since running last week…

Once the race started, I found myself as the third person overall.  I stayed there the entire time. The race was smaller because there were so many races that weekend. My husband and another male were further up front, and I lingered behind.  During the first mile, I felt tired.  The mud allowed me not to worry about pace, and I thought about how beneficial spikes would have been.  I hit the first mile in 6:15 and thought, oh geez if I can maintain this it would be a miracle!

During the second mile, we went into a wooded trail section.  The course was well marked in the woods, but there were a lot of roots. Knowing my track record with falling, I knew it was better to be safe versus sorry and focused on not falling.  Around the halfway point, we went out on extremely muddy and grassy field. It was like running through a swamp.  I preferred the less muddy trails.

I hit the halfway point in 9:45. I knew it was slower than most races I had run, but I didn’t care. It was a hard course; I was tired, and mentally I wasn’t upset.  I saw my husband fly by.  He had taken the lead.

Since the race was out and back in the woods, after the turnaround got crowded.  We headed back into the woods and while it wasn’t a single lane track, it was narrow.  It was great to see other runners working hard, however, at a few points some runners were running side by side, and there was no room for me to run the other direction.  I was pushed a couple of times into actual trees.

I ran the second mile in 6:49.  To give you perspective, that’s much slower than a half marathon paced mile for me.  You have to race the terrain you are given.

The third mile left the woods and did a loop around a large hill.  I had lost track of my husband but saw the second place male about a minute in front of me.  There wasn’t anything interesting during the third mile, and my focus was to finish.  I finished the 3rd mile in 6:11 and ran a 19:20.

When I got to the finish, I noticed my husband was not there.  I knew he had a great race, and I was concerned.  I went over to the car, and he told me a volunteer had directed him the wrong way, and he only ran about 2.5 miles.  It’s a shame because he was having a great race. He ended up running a tempo run and finishing his workout while I cooled down.

Thoughts:

I’m happy with my race after running the mile.  I am, however, jaded by the disorganization of the entire race.  While it’s typically the race participants responsibility to know the race course, being told to go a certain direction by a volunteer is unacceptable.  They should have had a lead cyclist.

It was fun to get out and run on terrain I don’t normally get too.  I’m happy with my effort during the race.  I got my fill of college style racing (a mile on the track and cross country).  Eventually, I’ll hit up the roads again.

Questions for you:

Have you ever run a cross country race?

Have you ever been directed the wrong way during a race?

Track Meet Mile (5:40)

How does one recap a mile race? It took me longer to write the recap versus run the race…  

The race itself was in the evening.  I wasn’t expecting to run, in fact, I ran 11 miles that morning.  My coworker asked if I wanted to run and I thought…why not? 

The answer should have been because nothing that day set me up for success for the race.

  • I don’t run well at night.
  • I haven’t been on the track in months and the last time I raced a mile was two years ago.
  • I ran 11 miles that morning and worked all day on my feet.

None of it matters because I didn’t plan to lose any sleep over my time. I let go of a time goal.  I arrived at the race at 7, quickly warmed up and got to the track.  My coworker was ready to run hard. However, I was ready for bed.

We toed the line of the track.  I was in the open heat, which had both men and women.  Since I don’t run the mile (ever), I couldn’t justify buying a pair of spikes and used my regular racing flats.

At the start of the gun, we were off.  Being in the middle of the pack for the heat, I was positioned towards the middle of the track.  I found myself boxed in during the first lap and as the third woman behind my coworker and another lady.  There were five men in front of me.

I passed the first lap in 82 seconds, and I thought it was the longest 82 seconds of my life.  The second lap seemed to go by faster, and I moved into the second woman overall.  I felt indifferent.  I didn’t feel terrible, but I also didn’t feel like I had the actual speed to move my legs any faster.

I crossed the halfway point in 2:47.  I was happy with that but to be honest, I have no real clue whether that’s good or bad.

During the third lap, several young children were cheering.  I was all by myself on the track.  There were plenty of people in front and behind but no one in the 10-second bubble around me.

I crossed the 3rd lap in 4:15 and hoped I would be able to be under 6 minutes.  Looking back that was pretty doable, but sometimes your brain forgets how to think during a race.

I pushed the last lap and by the time I knew it, the race was over. I crossed the mile in 5:40.  It wasn’t a PR, but I was pleased with the time.  My coworker won and finished in 5:19.

road mile running

Once school is out, my plan is to get back to the track more.  I think doing speed on the track versus road will be beneficial for getting leg turnover.

Questions for you: 
Have you ever raced a mile? 
What’s your favorite track workout? 

Training: Track Miles, XC Races and 78 Miles

Last week, I did a lot of unique training that I don’t normally do.  I raced on the track, ran a cross country style race and even did my long run on the trail (side note: I don’t normally even do 2 hour long runs!).  Since I’m not actively training for anything now, I’m enjoying doing other things with no major focus.

Monday: Easy Run
Tuesday: Easy Run
Wednesday: 6.5 Tempo Run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: AM: 11 Mile Easy Run
PM: 1 Mile Race (5:40)
Saturday: Cross Country 5k (19:20)
Sunday: Trail Run 13.6 mile run
 Total:  78 miles

Thoughts:

My easy runs were just that, easy.  I don’t have any complaints, and they were all uneventful.

Workout Wednesday: 6.5-mile tempo run (6:42 pace)

On Tuesday I received ART, so I knew I would be sore.  My goal was to run the tempo faster than the week after Broad Street and I did.  While it’s not my fastest tempo, I’m pleased with how it went.

Friday Mile: 5:40

Long story short, I didn’t know I would run this until later in the day. If I did, I wouldn’t have run 11 miles that morning.  After running and then working, my coworker asked if I wanted to race a mile with her.  I thought: “why not”?  5:40 isn’t my fastest time but after my week of training, plus running earlier, I’m happy with that time.

road mile running

Cross Country 5k: 19:20

The next morning, I ran a 5k with my husband.  I was operating on minimal sleep. Once again, I had no time goal for the race.  I could feel the effect of the mile, and I was both sore and tired.  There was a section of the course that was an “out and back” on a giant muddy field.   It reminded me of collegiate cross country running. I could have worn spikes and been better off.

I attended a wedding in Frederick that evening.  I was exhausted from racing and lack of sleep as well as driving.  We stayed the night in Chambersburg and ran at Caledonia state park.  Even though it was pouring rain, I had a beautiful run.  Plus, I beat my Fitbit “steps” high score from the elevation change.  138 flights in a single run HAHA.

me running 1 trail

Next week I don’t have a lot of plans.  This month I’m taking my training week by week.  As the summer approaches, I’ll make some training goals, but right now I don’t have a lot.  I’m jumping into races most weekends and just running for the beauty of the sport. 

Running Related Posts from Last Week: 
Quick Strength Tips for Runners
Saucony Ride 9 Review

Questions for you:
Have you ever run a mile on the track?
What was your best workout last week?

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