As athletes, it’s OK to give ourselves permission to take a break during a training cycle, injured or not! The countless weeks, miles, hours, early mornings and late evenings of a training schedule, can take a tremendous toll on our bodies, minds and lives. It is said, that training for an event is often more strenuous than the event itself.
With 13 weeks of uninhibited training down, just like at mile 23 of a marathon, I suddenly found myself totally exhausted, and unable to function physically and mentally. The rigors of training, coaching/business, four young children on school summer vacation, lack of sleep, and life in general, finally knocked me off my feet!
With only 5 weeks remaining until Berlin Marathon 2013, and a few days free from coaching due to athlete’s commitments, I found myself with a tough decision to make…to continue to train, or take a few days off, from not just running, but working out in general. I knew that a few days off would not alter my fitness level in any way, and that it was now or never if I was going to do it. I, therefore, decided that taking the time off from all exercise would be more beneficial to my training, than to continue to run myself into the ground.
A proper break
And here I am, 3 days into my break, with one to go…
The first two days of workout rest were pretty easy, since I was totally exhausted the first, and had a scheduled day off the second. Today was hard…my long run, 20 miles. I awoke at 5am as usual still undecided as to whether I should run with the group, or be true to myself, and take four consecutive days off. I was at this time beginning to feel the urge to get out there, but ultimately I crawled back into bed with the comfort of knowing I had 2×20 milers, 1×21 miler and 1×22 miler behind me with 1×20 yet to go.
I briefly considered doing my long run tomorrow, but a wise running buddy of mine told me to take the day off, and head to the beach with the family instead…how lucky am I to have such wise running friends!
Listen to your body
As athletes, it is crucial for us to be able to listen to our bodies, not only when all is well, but also when our bodies and performance begin to fail us….then we must act accordingly, otherwise we run the risk of burn out and/or injury, and be forced to take time off. Being an athlete in training is not just about performance, but about taking good care of ourselves through good nutrition, hydration, strengthening, rest, and most of all learning how to be “in tune” with our bodies and minds…listening to what they have to tell us.
Remember, the aches and pains that we experience during training, or just in our daily workouts, the feelings of exhaustion, they are signs that our bodies are not as they should be. We only have one body. If we take good care of our bodies, they will take good care of us, and allow us to perform to the best of our abilities. Think about it, it makes sense.
Here's a related article about the benefits of rest for the body.