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Rest is Best

Rest is Best

Telling someone to rest is a lot easier than doing it yourself.  Telling someone to do ANYTHING is easier said than done.

Throughout my blogging journey, many people have emailed or asked my thoughts on topics including running, life, and you guessed it: rest.  If there is ever a question of should, I give my honest advice to rest and see how you feel.  If you are injured with a bone-related injury, always rest.  If you injured with a muscular related injury, sometime rest will help but sometimes it won’t.  Rest will never hurt you, and missing an individual run or even a week is nothing in the long scheme of things.

running Rest is Best

Anyway, I’m not a coach or doctor, so giving medical or training advice is not what this post is about.  I’m just a woman telling people to rest including myself.

In my training recap on Monday, I talked about my personal needs and why rest was best for me right now.  I’m often out of my house for 12+ hours a day.  That isn’t the whole day, and many people are out of their house longer.  I wish I could squeeze running in, but I would be more tired and more exhausted. Realistically, there wasn’t a point.  It was better for me to take a few days off, get quality sleep, focus on things currently going on, and regroup from there.

So this week, that is precisely what I did.  I definitely feel much better because of it.  I do think I might do a short run tomorrow and see how I feel.

Here are a Few Important Reasons to Rest:

Refocus Goals:

Right now I have no idea what I want to train for. Do I want to train for another marathon? How about a 5k PR? Maybe even try and better my half marathon PR? I have no clue.

Sometimes you just need to take time off regardless of whether you reached your goal or not.  With training, you put your body through a tough period.  It doesn’t matter if your body ends up in a PR or not, you still put yourself through tough training. Taking time off allows you to reflect, and think about what you want in the future.

Emotional Break:

As hard as it can be to admit this, running and training can be exhausting.  For me, running has never been a therapy of any kind.  It is never been my way to “escape the world”.  Training for a goal race can be exhausting.  I need time away from the sport to fall in love with it again, and I think we all do.

While it has only been a few days, I have already felt fonder of the sport again.  Today, Thursday, I want to run.  Last Thursday, I had no interest and even loathed the idea of running.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder:

For me, I like to crave running again.  I want to feel like I want to run!  Along the same lines of mental recovery, it’s important to want to run.  If you don’t start running again feeling “refreshed,” you’ll end up in a burn out longer and faster.

Recovery:

If you don’t allow your body time to recover from training stress, you will continue to feel worn down and it will take you longer to recover from runs (I began to feel this).

Injury:

As one of the most injury prone people out there, I’ve learned I do need extra rest and recovery. If you are not able to recover, your body will be more susceptible to injury. It is better to take a few days or week off early, than several months off with a serious injury.  I’m not injured now, but there have been a few times I should have rested to keep a minor injury from becoming serious.

Healing Small Aches and Pains:

Sometimes you have small aches and pains that you don’t realize you have.  An amount of time off, allows your body to heal.  Running every other day or every few days doesn’t let your body to heal as quickly.  By taking time off, your body will use more energy to recover versus recovering from daily runs as well as small aches and pains.

I never regret my running breaks.  This one will be short, but I’m getting to the point my legs and mind feel like they “want to run.”  Plus hopefully next week my schedule is a bit more forgiving to add it into my schedule.

Questions for you:

Do you take a break every year?

What are you currently training for?

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Training: Rest is also Training

Training: Rest is also Training

I had all of the intentions to run through the week, but then I felt like garbage.  On Monday I woke up sore, burned out, and not wanting to run.

So I didn’t.  I had the day off, and I decided to make a quick trip up to North Jersey and go hiking outside.  It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to be outside, but I didn’t want to run.  The hike was challenging but fun and I’m glad I enjoyed that.  While yes, running is my “primary workout activity,” it’s not the only thing I enjoy.  I enjoy hiking every bit as much as running.

hiking the palisades

The rest of the week I had no interest to run.  Each morning, I woke up and felt blah.  By Friday I thought I might go for a run but gave it another day.  My college coach once said: days off, saves months off.  I do believe if I hadn’t given myself a few days off, nothing would have changed.  My mentality is completely different from last week.

On Saturday, I ran a short run and I felt good.  It was the first time I actually wanted to get out there.  Things are not perfect, and I do feel as though my muscles need a lot of care.  I don’t feel bad, or sore, but my legs are tight.

Monday: Hiking the Palisades
Tuesday; Rest
Wednesday; Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday; Easy 30 minutes
Sunday: Easy 30 minutes

The goal until the April Fools Half marathon is to focus on recovery and rest.  I would love to get a workout that makes me confident in running again, but I don’t want to overdo anything.  Making it to the start and finish line is the most important to me.

I feel as though I’m progressing in the right direction with running, but I still have longer to go.

Posts of the Week:

Hiking the Palisades

Phillies 5k (19:07) 

Questions for you:

Have you ever felt burned out with running?  How do you get through it?

How was your Easter?

The “I Didn’t Workout” Training Post

The “I Didn’t Workout” Training Post

I didn’t train last week.  In fact, the only workout I did was go to the gym once and use the elliptical.  Truth be told, after the April Fools half marathon last weekend, I was (and still am) burnt out.  I had no interest in running last week and didn’t.  Heck, I might not even run this week.

The Broad Street 10 Miler is next Sunday, and it might be my next run back.  If I run (which for me is only 50/50 now), my only goal is to finish and enjoy myself doing so.  Having fun won’t be too difficult since both my parents and my inlaws are coming to visit.

So with that, this training post is one of the most boring I’ve ever written! 

Last year around this time, I wrote a post about taking rest and burnout.  That is relevant to me today and still where I am at.

As I mentioned last year, The idea of rest isn’t new, unusual, or life changing.  It’s important for every single runner, new or old, elite or not, to take rest.

I’m on week 2 of resting now (the end to be determined).  My ultimate goal is to start a new training cycle both physically and mentally happy.  I want to wake up excited to run again, not say “ugh I have to run”.

Here is a list of things I told myself I might accomplish during my rest week:

  • Spring Cleaning
  • Sort old Race Tshirts and mail them to Project Repat for a Quilt
  • Find a few new gym classes to consider

Here are Things I Actually Did:

  • I actually cleaned my kitchen (that was last Monday, and it needs to be cleaned again now)
  • Drank a lot of coffee and relaxed on the internet
  • Went to the gym once and live tweeted a man chugging an energy drink before his workout

So that is where I’m at this week!  PS: Happy May 1st!

Running Posts from the Week:
April Fools Half Marathon (1:26.17)
Running Related Posts
Asics Nimbus 19 Shoe Review

Questions for you:
Do you ever take rest weeks?
When was the last time you felt burnt out?

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 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 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 important for every single runner, new or old, elite or not, to take rest.

So what are some worries?

Worry 1: Your Body Will Lose Fitness

You aren’t running, and your body will lose fitness.  It’s a real statement.  The longer you don’t run, the more likely you are to lose fitness.  However, you will gain fitness back quickly, and you will come back stronger.  A few weeks 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 everytime 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 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, 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 the time off”.  I can rest when I want too, so I’ve pushed if off until tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow.

So what are benefits of full running rest?

Not reduced mileage but full running rest

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 training. 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.

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.
  • More Time: 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 goal race.
  • Don’t fear weight gain: Like anything, your fitness is based on months and years.  You might lose fitness or gain

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

Questions for you:

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

Have you felt burnt out from something before?

 

Sleep is Valuable

Sleep is something I value a lot.  I don’t run well on less than 8 hours of sleep.  There are obvious cases that less sleep cannot be avoided but for me sleep is really important.  I rank getting enough rest in the top five most important factors for my personal happiness.  I don’t have any issues telling people I’m going to bed at X time or I need to leave because I’m tired.  We are grown adults and no one can “judge” you for doing what’s best for you.

hotelbed

There should never be judgment to begin with but often times there is an (unnecessary) pressure to stay out late and to hang out longer.  Like I said this is completely unnecessary.

I’m not a doctor.  There are plenty of reasons why sleep plays an important role in your life.  I’m not here to tell you why and googling “why is sleep important” can yield thousands of results.

I’m here to tell you when I don’t get enough sleep I’m a grouchy human being, I’m hungry all the time and I want to drink all the caffeine I can get my hands on.  This cycle normally leads to a crash, napping and then not being able to sleep the next day.

I used to not sleep well.  Often times I would find myself tired and not sleeping through the night.  I didn’t understand why.  I later realized I was doing a few things to sabotage my sleep as well as I needed a new mattress.

Here are some things I’ve started doing to help me sleep better (and in my PERSONAL experience, have found them to work well)

Turn off technology before going to bed.  I stopped going to bed with an internet glow.  I turned off technology and don’t sleep with my cell phone in the bedroom.

I stopped drinking full leaded coffee after 1pm.  I used to drink regular coffee until around 2-3 but found one (and actually usually noon) is the latest I’ll have coffee.

I now change my sheets, pillowcase and entire bed linens more than once a week.  I used to alternate every 2 weeks but have found that more is better.  This means an unnecessary amount of laundry but I like to think of it as an awkward quirk I have.

Have a bed time snack.  I normally like to have a glass of milk as well as some sort of small bed time snack.  I wake up hungry in the morning and I have found going to bed full causes me to fall asleep very quickly and soundly.

I don’t struggle with this frequently (but I know some people do), but establishing a similar sleep pattern.  I go to bed and wake up the same time weather I’m working or not.  I’ve found having a fairly similar sleep pattern keeps my body conditioned to actually follow it.  I don’t go to bed at 3am some nights and 9pm other nights.

These are just things that I have found that work for me.  Sleep is such an important and key factor in your life and running.

Some of my favorite articles about sleep:

How to Get Better Sleep as a Runner 

Sleeping will make you faster 

Question for you: What do you do to promote sleep?

Appreciating the Time Off

In between all of my moves I was left with not having a job for roughly 8 months.  At first I enjoyed being able to lounge around.  That enjoyment lasted about one week and then I began to get extremely bored.  While I didn’t have a job I was actively looking.  That being said, you can only look for jobs so much during the day.

Some people have mentioned that looking for a job was like a full time job.   For me I probably spent 4 hours or so actively looking most days.  Some days (especially in Texas) there were no new jobs to look for, apply for, etc.  That meant it was far less.

Now that I’m actually working and out of the house around 45 hours a week (with commuting), I’ve found myself really taking advantage of my days off. 

Case and point: Last week I had to use my day off to go to the DMV.  The last thing I wanted to do was take one of my few days off, drive to the DMV for a few hours only to sit, wait and then do what I needed to do.  That’s adulthood though and I had to get the necessary paperwork done.

I’ve found myself stuck in the same rut or routine several times wondering…does it get better?  Will I be happier with x,y,z?  I must rush here, I must rush there, I must get everything done.  In college, I tended to have the all or nothing mentality.  I wanted to do it all and I wanted to do it all well. I would like to dabble in swimming, in running, double major, join clubs, have a job…etc.  I wanted to do it all.  I wanted to be successful in everything I did.

The truth is that you cannot be successful in multiple things by burning the candle at both ends.  If you stress yourself out trying to fit every single thing you can into your life, it won’t add quality of life but rather take it away.

I first learned that when I quit swim team my senior year of college.  I no longer had a 2-3 hour commitment daily to the pool.  I had 2-3 hours to work on my studies, to relax and to focus on other things.  I wasn’t rushed anymore and it honestly was the first (of many) lessons I learned.  You don’t need to be amazing at everything.  You don’t need to do everything.

I second time I learned that was in Oswego.  While Tim and I did long distance, I only really focused on working, running and hanging out occasionally with friends.  I didn’t have a lot of outside factors and it allowed me to excel at working and meet many new people (I was injured at running but did go to the gym).  If I had more things piled on top, I don’t think I would have gotten nearly the benefits (and enjoyment) of what I did out of my job in Oswego.

The next time I truly learned this lesson was moving in with Tim last August.  Though I never speak finances on the blog, I had saved enough in my savings to live one year without having a job.  Not one year buying everything in the world but one year living comfortably.  (This means doing the occasional road race, new shoes but also paying what needs to be payed like bills etc).   I knew I probably wouldn’t find a job for a few months (a few not 8) so I had financially prepared for that.

While sitting and applying for jobs I felt the need to apply for every single job available.  Nevermind that it didn’t look interesting, it was an hour away…I qualified so I would apply.  I even found myself thinking if I got one job, should I get two?

All of that was unnecessary.  I found a job I love and I’m happy.  The wait was worth it and it allows me the balance I need in my life.  In the end I am sitting here saying you don’t need to do everything.  You don’t need to thrive on being on the go all the time.  If you are anything like me (you may or may not be) then you do need and truly deserve some rest and down time for yourself.  This is a lesson I struggle with often.

Question for you:

Do you have the all or nothing mentality?

I used to in college but have found that I do really enjoy my down time too.

Base Building Week 2 (60ish miles)

This could be the first time in a while that I chose to take two days off of running this week instead of one.  I don’t regret that decision because I had a pretty solid week.

Monday: 12.2 outdoors (8:13 overall pace) P90x Ab ripper
Tuesday: OFF
Wednesday: 11.55 Treadmill (8:23 overall pace) Nike Training Club Alpha Abs
Thursday: 12.3 outdoors fast finish (7:43 overall pace) P90X
Friday: Cross train
Saturday: 12 miles easy (untimed, recovery) P90X
Sunday: 4 mile race

Each run I had this past week has been productive.  I cannot complain about any of them.  My body recovered really well.  I blame part of that on good nutrition and part of it on sleeping inside because it’s so cold.  It was very hard for me to take two days completely off of running.  My “junk/easy” miles were just completely removed from this situation which resulted in much lower mileage.

On Monday, I was able to get outdoors for a warm run.  Warm! I was wearing shorts.  I honestly didn’t believe the weather man when he said it was supposed to be zero the next day…

rundrawing

Incase you wondered those are large snowflakes

He wasn’t lying though and it was too cold to run outdoors on Tuesday.  I didn’t sleep well and felt really tired and sluggish.  I was a bit upset but knew that it wouldn’t be beneficial for me to run.  I talked about that being a top reason I like rest days here.

Then Wednesday I ran on the treadmill.  I didn’t feel bad nor did I feel great.  I felt bored.  After spending all of last winter logging 70 mile treadmill weeks,  I’m tired of the treadmill.  It has been boring lately.  Not even the Beibs, the Maury show or Ellen can keep me entertained right now.

Thursday I decided I would get outside.  I was not taking no for answer. I started off around 8:50 pace.  I had hoped for a faster paced run this week to work on my turnover.  I can’t really explain it but around mile 7 I just took a leap of faith and decided to push down from an 8:30 mile to 7:30 and hope I could keep it going.  After a 7:30 mile felt good I pushed further and ended up running the last four miles at 6:49, 6:44, 6:49 and 6:42).  I was really proud of this run and couldn’t be happier.   This is my favorite run of this training cycle.

Friday I decided to do easy cross training.  I had been back and forth about it because I knew taking 2 days off would equate to not running a 70 mile week but decided it was okay because I was hoping for faster runs. Then Saturday was easy to stretch out the legs, nothing remotely exciting.

Today (Sunday) I am doing a 4 mile race so I’m hoping it goes well!  It’s rather hill so anything under 6:30 pace will be good with me.   Although the race is hilly, it will serve as a nice baseline.

Finally please don’t forget to vote for me for Napa.  Enjoy the Superbowl!

Questions for you:

How many rest days do you take weekly? 

I normally either take one complete rest day or cross train for one day…but this week I did both.

Which team are you going for in the Super Bowl? 

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