When I last left you, I told you that I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was feeling run down and just plain unmotivated. So I decided that I needed to take some drastic measures–basically, I needed a complete reset.
For starters, I took three weeks almost completely off. I initially imposed a one-week moratorium on all exercise, and then for the next two weeks I told myself I could run, but only if I really wanted to. I ended up running two very short, very causal runs with friends during that time. The focus was to give myself optimal rest, both physically and mentally, and not let myself feel guilty about doing it.
During those three weeks I also made a point to get back to basics. I tried to get more sleep and I made sure to pay special attention to what I was eating. In fact, I took a page out of Pimento’s book and started tracking my nutrition on the MyFitnessPal app for a couple of weeks. One thing that stood out immediately was that, even though I thought I was pretty good at getting enough protein, it turned out that many days I wasn’t even close. I know I need even more protein when I’m in training for a marathon, so this could be one clue to why I’ve felt so wrecked after two-and-a-half years of nearly continuous training. So I found a protein powder that I really like and will incorporate that into my daily routine once I start training again.
This past week, I decided I’d slowly reintroduce running into the mix, although I also told myself that I didn’t really need to worry about jumping into building my base back up for Boston until after Thanksgiving. So I ran a couple of times this week without paying attention to time or mileage. I also ran a five-mile turkey trot in Louisville on Thanksgiving morning, which is one of my favorite races of the year! I was a little bummed that I wasn’t in peak condition this year, because last time I ran it I won my age group. But I still feel pretty good about my performance, all things considered. I ran this for the most part without pushing very hard, and according to my watch I ended up running a 7:34 average pace. True, that was roughly my marathon pace a year ago, but I’ll take it for now. I suppose there’s a chance I still won an age group award, but the results aren’t posted yet–this is an old-fashioned race without chip timing, which I think is part of its charm!
After what has been close to a month off, I’m feeling much better. I barely missed running at all during my hiatus, which is probably a sign that some time off was long overdue. But I’m also a little nervous about how easy it was to slip into what has basically been a sedentary lifestyle–I’m only now starting to feel an itch to run, and even now that itch is very slight. At any rate, this coming week I’m going to start the base-building process before really jumping into marathon-specific training for Boston. I have to remember to be patient and not to be too hard on myself when I can’t immediately run the types of paces I used to be able to hit. I’m still relatively new to this marathon thing, and it’s been kind of hard to accept that it’s not possible or healthy to stay in peak race shape all the time. But I have faith that it will all come back in time, and there’s still plenty of time before Boston!