5 Lessons Learned After 5 Days Off From Running

As I mentioned on the last post, I found out I had a pretty severe Vitamin D deficiency.  The weeks before the blood work I obviously wasn’t aware of it.  I was keenly aware, however, of how tired I was.  I’m not talking about just a “I didn’t get enough sleep” tired.  I was exhausted…drained to my core.  A simple 3-miler felt like a humongous task, even at a 9:30 pace.  I was so fatigued I was having trouble getting out of bed even on the days I wasn’t trying to get up early for my runs.  The Monday my daughter started Spring Break I said enough was enough.  I had already taken my rest day Sunday but I just couldn’t bring myself to run.  I decided to take a break.  I figured maybe I had overworked myself at some point and therefore I wasn’t recovering well.  Now I know what may have been the culprit.  However, during that break I learned a few things about myself:

  • I depended less on caffeine.

Where would I be without thee, Starbucks?

My usual routine requires me to wake up at 4:30 AM in order to get my run in before my husband leaves for work.  I choose to run at this time because I can run solo and get it over with early in the day.  It frees up the rest of my day to accomplish errands and chores.  I lose a lot of sleep as a result (I’m a night owl) and usually find myself depending on caffeine to get me through the day.  With the break in running, I was able to get 8, sometimes 9, hours of sleep.  As a result I was more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I got up for the day.  No caffeine needed or craved.

  • I lost the “burnt out” feeling.

Granted, this may largely be in part due to my deficiency.  However, the fact stands that I run 6 out of 7 days of the week.  You do any exercise day in and day out and you run (no pun intended) the risk of burning out.  I suck at cross-training and I admit it 100%.  I would much rather run than lift or do a work out video because running is “easier” to me.  Well, taking this approach was making me slowly loathe the idea of getting up or gearing up to run.  Even at a no pressure easy pace I was starting to feel some disdain.  Taking the break made me appreciate the reasons why I love to run.  I had time to think through why I got up so early to do it and reflect on any goals I may have.  I also didn’t feel the pressure to run that I was putting on myself to get me out in the morning.  Letting go for a bit really recharged me and when I decided to get up Friday morning to lace up my shoes, I did it so with excitement and not with utter regret.

  • I enjoyed relaxed morning and cuddles.

This will never get old.

Typically, my mornings begin with me rushing to get out the door so I can get my mileage in or rushing around to get my gear in the car so I can run after  dropping her off.  I rush to get ready, get the kids ready, and try to get breakfast done and school bag packed all in good time to avoid traffic.  Now, most would say just get up earlier to avoid rushing so much.  I already start quite early.  I’m not pulling my daughter out of bed earlier to make it more convenient for me (she’s already getting up at 6:30 which I think is a lot to ask of a 4-year-old.  Anyway, I running around like a crazy person and am usually going full speed until lunch time.  Since she didn’t have school, I let her sleep in which allowed me to sleep in.  I haven’t slept past 6 AM in what feels like ages.  It was glorious.  I was able to take my time getting out of bed.  I was able to reflect on what I wanted to accomplish that day.  Most importantly, I got to cuddle with my daughter when she would roll into our room around 7 AM.  We haven’t cuddled like that since she started school so it’s been a real treat.  It put me in such a great mood to have that little moment before her brother got up.

  • Cross-training can be just as challenging.

Finally! Real weights!

I blow off cross-training a lot because it doesn’t seem like it “challenges” my body.  Running just looks and feels harder.  During my running break I did 2 relatively “easy” Fitness Blender videos.  I focused on my upper body one day and lower body the other.  I got to use my new adjustable weights which helped keep the workout interesting, an ability that bands lack.  I quickly figured out that the workouts were anything but easy and I hurt doing reps with something as small as a 10 lb weight.  Boy, did I feel it the day after the workouts as well.  I worked muscle groups I didn’t usually touch with running.  I remained sore for a few days and was reminded (until the next time I forget) just how taxing cross-training can be.  I really need to get better at incorporating it in the future.

  • Taking a break is OK.

I have a hard time going more than 2 days a week without exercise.  My thinking quickly goes into how much of my fitness I’ll lose or how I might love resting so much I won’t pick back up my routine.  These are all very disordered thoughts and I realize that.  Still, they are an honest fears and the first thing that came into mind when I decided to take a short break.  I was so afraid I would decide to not run anymore because it happened to me a few years ago.  Life was a bit crazy for me and I decided to stop stressing about getting my workout in and stopped for about 4 months.  Turns out I had nothing to fear.  Did I lose fitness?  No.  An article from Active (as well as several other sites) even confirmed that it would take at least a week to lose what I’ve worked hard to do.  Even so, some articles were quick to point out that extended rests are good for you in the long run.  That put my mind at ease.  I also realized this first hand when I went out on my weekend long run and continued to pace the same, and at some points faster than usual.

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