Want To Improve Your Training? Take A BreakBy Katherine Yager
This past year’s running season has been, to say the least, very busy! I started off with the Around the Bay 30k in Hamilton, and have since run nine other races, including my goal race of the year—50 miles at the Haliburton Forest ultra marathon—in early September, and most recently the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon Toronto.
After this last run, my running coach told me it’s time to take a break. At that point, I completely agreed – I was tired and it had been almost a year since I’d gone a week without running.
It’s been a big year for running, but what stands out most to me is that I’ve successfully made it through 2015 without getting injured – something I’ve never done before.
Before this year, each time I ran any significant distance I ended up with an injury that left me unable to run for months. What changed this time around was that I realized there’s more to running than just spending a lot of time running.
My body needs rest, too.
HITTING PAUSE ON POUNDING THE PAVEMENT
Over this year, I focused on sleeping enough (at least eight hours, if not more) and on the days each week that were rest days, I really rested. On a rest day I used to go to the gym or do some other activity, but it turns out that it’s hard for my body to recover when I’m constantly pushing it too hard.
If you’re following a training plan, taking a break should be part of it in order to improve your training. Breaks are important for your muscles and joints to heal from what you’ve done to them during training. After my final marathon this year, I was told to take at least two weeks off (and preferably more) with absolutely no running.
Mentally, it’s also important to have some time to not be following a schedule. Part of a marathon training plan – or any training plan – is being told exactly what you’re doing each week. This structure is what you need a break from.
Taking a break doesn’t mean sitting on the couch though, because that would result in losing a lot of my hard-earned fitness. Instead, it means getting to do what you want, when you want.
FALLING IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN
In the last three weeks, I’ve swam, biked, walked my dog really far, and gone to the gym. It’s important to take some time to forget about the schedule and just embrace whatever activity you want to do.
The thing about running a lot is that when you’re in the thick of high-mileage training weeks and you’re tired, it’s really easy to forget what you love about it. Taking a break gives you a chance to miss running and reconnect with why you love it so much.
At the end of three weeks, I’m antsy to get back out there and I’m starting to feel like the trails are calling. But I know that in the middle of the winter when I’m running 100km weeks, I’ll appreciate that I took this time to recover and get ready for what’s coming next.
You can read more about Katherine’s ultra marathon lifestyle at KatherineYager.com.