Back in my first summer of running, I ran as hard as I could every day in order to prepare for a half marathon. Yes, I was one of those crazies that did couch to half marathon and lived to tell about it. As soon as I finished, I said, “I never need to do that again” and managed a week or two of 20km each and then shut it down, for what I thought was for good.
It was 3 months later that I picked running back up as a means to meet people in my new city (Sherbrooke, QC). I didn’t think I’d be able to run all that well with that much time off. I figured it would be a struggle to keep up with the stronger runners in the run group. Turns out, all that time off did me a TON of good. That coupled with some new knowledge that not every run had to be a tempo run or hard workout, led to a much stronger running season.
Although I haven’t treated every run like a tempo run in 2017 (in fact, I can’t remember the last time I hit a tempo workout), I have run harder than I probably should have this year. I was doing good until the end of May, and then in June I ran 3 marathons in 5 weeks, capping it off with a 3:02 marathon. It was a highlight of my year, but would pretty much signal the end of any PR attempts for 2018. In the span of 3 short months, I went from a 3:02 marathon, to a 3:38 (slowest ever) to a 3:53 (slower still).
My body is saying it’s time to rest.
Why do we fear rest so much? It’s so necessary in ever area of our lives. In the day to day, we have this misplaced pride in being busy, or being able to say we’re busy. In running, we want to be able to point to all the miles we are running. Just look at IG at the end of each month and you’ll see all the monthly mileage posts of honour (including myself).
My plan moving forward is to rest as much as possible until the new year. And this scares the crap out of me. I know it’s the right thing. I know it’s what I need. Part of me thinks it’s not smart. That if I want to get faster, I need to push harder, not slow down. I can’t lose time resting when I could be pursuing gains!
Truth is, our bodies need the rest. We were designed for it. We weren’t designed to always be going. As a marathoner chasing a BQ, I obviously believing in pushing the limits, but there’s a way to do it. We need to understand ourselves, how our bodies work, and give ourselves time to rest and heal. Again, those truths are the same in many areas of life, but very evident in running and fitness.
I took 15 days off after running the Detroit Marathon. Coming back last week I ran a total of 22km, which included an 8k trail race. That is a significant drop in my weekly mileage. I had enough weeks of more than 80 or 90 km’s this year. So 20 represents a steep drop. I am choosing to trust that rest will do me as much good as another 70 km per week. Even though it’s uncomfortable, even though it seems counter intuitive, sometimes pulling back can not only restore the body, but restore the mind.
I’m going to not chase any goals for two months. I will run because I want to, not because there’s a plan. I may take up some yoga. I’m looking at getting into the pool. Mostly, I am looking and decluttering my mind from all the constant pursuit, the frustrating finishes, the striving for perfection and just let running be what it was supposed to be. Fun.