Give it a rest

My name is Graham and I am a runner. It has been 5 days since my last run, which was 9 days after the last run. In the last 3 weeks I have run 4 times in total but in the 4 weeks before that I didn’t run once, so in the last 7 weeks I have run a total of 4 times. I think I’m now sufficiently rested from the Autumn 100 in mid-October, when I got my second 100 mile buckle. 

I guess I’d better get back out running now. Well, tomorrow….

The thing is, I have some ambitions for next year and know that the sooner I get back out running consistently the sooner I’ll rebuild my fitness, be better prepared for my 2017 races, and be able to enjoy long runs on the trails again. I’m also painfully aware from the few runs I’ve done in recent weeks that I have lost a lot of fitness and it’s going to take a while to get to my desired level. I’m okay with that though.

A while ago, while I was training for my first 100 miler,the South Downs Way 100 in 2015, I listened to Greg McMillan interviewed on the excellent Trail Runner Nation podcast. The podcast episode was titled “Give it a rest” and is well worth a listen. Essentially, McMillan argues that taking a break from running and having an off-season provides the opportunity to recharge, relax, and get ready for the next extended training and racing period. Oh, and putting a few pounds on by eating and drinking too much is okay. I like this, perhaps because I’ve been indulging my sweet tooth fairly regularly over the last few weeks. 

After a difficult middle third of 2016 training and injury wise, I decided before I stepped onto the start line at the Autumn 100 that I’d be taking 4 weeks completely off from running to allow my body and mind time to recover, even if I felt I was ready to resume running earlier. This gave me time with my wife and son on weekday evenings and weekend mornings that I don’t have when training for months on end and it was lovely to just chill out. 

My return to running at the end of this break lasted a week before the pressure of a very heavy workload from my job and the resultant late finishes and general mental exhaustion led to a lack of motivation and/or energy to get out and run. I knew that running would help me at a time when I was struggling with work problems and deadlines which led to some boys of anxiety. I let my work get on top of me and slipped into a bad place mentally. However, a sense of perspective returned this week and I’ve been calmer and more positive, as I generally am (or at least I think so). I am not my job and I won’t let it define me or stop me achieving my running goals and affect my health. 

Enough is enough, so this week I’m getting back out there and starting to rebuild my base fitness. It won’t be fast – especially as I’m returning to heart rate based training which served me so well a few years ago – and I know I’ll struggle initially but I’m taking a patient approach as I rebuild for 2017.  I’ve yet to decide upon my race and running plans for next year but I’m determined to have a more enjoyable year of running than this year’s frustrating, injury interrupted one (despite the PBs). I’ll be back and I’ll be smiling. Onwards, without the sweets and chocolate overdosing this time!

[Photo credit: Sinon Welch]