Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Taking a 'Leave of Absence' from Running

I am taking four weeks off of running. No, I am not injured.

I am taking four weeks off because I am choosing to, because I think it is a smart thing to do, and because I want to see what impact it will have on my run speed and the health of my legs.

In my first few years as a newbie runner I ended up with two pretty significant injuries (April 2009 and December 2010) that landed me in a cast and on crutches. (Note: These were during marathon training and Coach Jim was not calling the shots on my running program at that time.) I recall one orthopedic appointment when Dr. Lebolt looked at me and said very emphatically, "You need to take a month off of running every year." I kind of gave it the "yeah, yeah..." brushoff but I never forgot what he said.

In 2011 I had a hip "thing" that interrupted my running for a few weeks so I just called that my time off. By 2012, I figured with 3-1/2 years of running my body was strong enough not to need time away from running. I had a great winter/spring of running with a PR for a 10-mile race and a PR at the Boston Marathon. But afterward, I had a quad issue plague me for my tri season. It's better, but still lurks, and I think it's time to see what a total running shutdown might offer.

I struggled with this decision but ultimately I asked myself, "If I don't take the time off and I have issues or injuries in 2014, will I be wishing I had heeded Dr. Lebolt's advice?"

I always felt that I came back as a stronger and fresher runner after injury time-offs. That becomes a bit more of a gamble as we get older, but I think I need the mental reboot to get my head back in the game for the 5ks and 10ks I want for my 2014 triathlons.

It's only 4 weeks. I'll continue to swim, bike, and strength train and will use this time and the winter season to diagnose and address weaknesses and muscular imbalances that may be affecting me.

I recognize that taking a total time off could backfire but then I will know. Ultimately each of us is our own scientific experiment - a study with a sample size of 1. The only way to know what is best is to take a chance and try something different.

The Turkey Trot was my final run for four weeks so that will take me to December 26. I will have plenty to keep me busy during that time :-)

Have you ever taken a non-injury/illness time-out?