Categories: Motivation, Runnbatical, Winter Training
My runnbatical is winding down. Not sure yet of the exact date official training will start, but I can tell you that I’m feeling physically and mentally more refreshed, the buttular region is less fatigued, my core and hips are stronger, I’ve become reacquainted with muscles I hadn’t seen in some time, and despite holiday parties and the hard-to-resist treats that come with them, the scale isn’t swearing and glaring at me…most days.
Here are some things I learned about taking a break from routine:
1. Change your routine, don’t just stop completely.
If you want to run less, fine. But replace it with something else. Something active. Sitting on the couch with a bag of Cheetos does not count as active.
2. Set goals.
Just as you set goals for races and train to them, you need to set goals for downtime as well. Creatures who thrive with structure and routine still need it. My goals are:
Regain strength, especially in the core/hips
Work on flexibility
Zero weight gain
3. Be flexible but don’t cave in completely.
Bad weather, holiday obligations, the parade of tempting food and drink etc. make it all too easy to slip out of a productive exercise routine at this time of year. I found it easier to stay vigilant training through the winter when I had a big race looming. Although you may be between training cycles, make staying active a priority:
Watch the forecast and adjust your schedule accordingly to avoid bad weather
Make the treadmill your friend when it’s very cold/icy out
Take full advantage of the gym
Workout with friends for extra motivation
Change the time you workout
Do two shorter workouts instead of a long one
4. Variety is the spice of life.
Push out of your comfort zone! Now is the perfect time to add in some things that aren’t normally in your routine. During training, I often hesitate to take fitness classes that leave me sore for fear they’ll compromise my run the following day. Now’s the time to go all out.
5. Mind Games: Make perception your reality.
For me, the mental aspect of my ‘break from running’ was most important. In my mind, I’ve been on a luxurious hiatus from hard training. In reality, I cut my mileage by 30%, dropped some of the speedwork and added in more cycling and time with my new/old friend the Stairmaster. Rather than visualizing crossing a finish line or stressing about hitting a particular pace when I run, I focus on releasing pressure and enjoying myself.
In my mind, I gave myself ‘permission’ to miss a workout. In reality, so far, I have not missed any. So in essence I’m running because I WANT TO not because I have to. There’s something empowering in that. The number of weekly training days is the same as when I’m training for a race. The variety of workouts/runs is what has changed.