Are we Thursday already? Oh my, this week is really flying. Ever since I’ve hit the pause button on my running last week, I’ve been meaning to make a list of the advantages of taking a running break. Today I got the great idea to include the disadvantages as well. It’s good to lay it out so I can remind myself how there are good things coming out of this (and not so good things I need to keep in mind).
Let’s start with the pros!
1. More time to spend with family and friends.
This is the biggest pro by far. When you start adding up all the time that running takes during a training cycle, you can see how the sport can take such a big chunk out of your schedule. It’s not just the run itself, but everything we have to do in preparation for the run and during our post-run recovery. Here’s an example of the time it takes me to do a long run, which is the most time-consuming run in any given week:
The night before: The night before my long runs, I usually pick my running outfit and lay it out next to my running accessories like my belt, earphones and headband, make sure the Garmin and the iPhone are charging, bag the snacks I’m going to take with me and fill my water bottles. Oh yeah, and get to bed as early as possible to make sure I’m well rested. Sorry Gavin, can’t watch a full movie tonight.
The morning of: Get up between 4:30am and 5:00am depending on where I’m starting my run. Try really hard to not wake Gavin but fail 50% of the time. Immediately put on my running clothes, prepare my breakfast and coffee, eat/drink it while watching whatever I can find on TV that is not an infomercial (usually it’s a toss between a show on CNBC about small business or 1998 episodes of Forensic Files), put on my shoes, belt, headband and earphones before heading out.
The post-run recovery: Get home and eat as soon as possible. Either make myself a smoothie or prepare my post-run breakfast. Stretch in the living room. If I’m running with a group, this is even longer because I’m going to stretch and chit chat with other runners before driving home and maybe eat my post-run snack in the car.
You see how a 1-2 hour run will actually take a lot more time than that. Basically, every Saturday morning from 5:00 to 10:00 am is pretty much devoted to running when I’m training for a race. And that doesn’t include cutting my Friday night short so I can get enough rest.
But then I have the rest of the day… assuming I’m not too grouchy at dinner and don’t crash by 9pm that night.
Runners, be eternally grateful to your family for putting up with your obsession.
2. Getting to sleep in on the weekends.
I have a love/hate relationship with sleep. I love the way I feel after getting a good night sleep but I’m always forcing myself to live off less than I should (unconsciously). I’m not used to sleeping in and I probably will get up early no matter what, but I must say it feels pretty nice to wake up without an alarm clock on the weekends.
Another perk? I have two days of the week when I can prepare brunch instead of a quick breakfast. Welcome back, eggs/bacon/pancake breakfasts!
3. Not having to deal with humidity anymore.
Well, I live in South Florida, so I had to put that one in there. Here it’s super humid from April to November. I know it’s not like trying to run in a snow and ice for you northerners, but our weather has its own challenges. And no, I refuse to spend all that time indoors on a treadmill. Not gonna happen.
4. Better looking feet. Hello pedicures!
I’ve had my fair share of blisters while training and even had a black toenail last year which took months to heal. My poor feet are really appreciating this time off.
5. Less stress and pressure.
The pressure of following a training schedule and to PR can really take its toll sometimes. Not having to meet running goals right now is giving me a real breather, let me tell you.
6. Risk of injury goes down to zero.
We runners love injuries, don’t we? *sarcasm*
7. The chance to discover other sports/activities: yoga, cycling, walking, swimming…
A lot of runners only want to run. They hate strength training and they don’t try many other sports (unless they believe it supports their running). I’m not one of those. I’ve been lifting weights for years and I love both mountain biking and road cycling. I took swimming lessons a few summers ago and I recently rediscovered the joys of yoga. There’s no reason why taking time off running means we should be sedentary all of a sudden. There’s always something we can do. Once an athlete, always an athlete.
Since my impressively low (my doctor’s words, not mine) hemoglobin level means I have to avoid anything strenuous, my workouts for the next few weeks will consist of walking, light biking, yoga and house cleaning. I know, I’m 99 years old, what can I tell you….
8. Money saved on running shoes, clothes, races…
I’m pretty cheap, so I list that as a pro. Running is expensive. Shoes average about $100 a pair and race entry fees can be anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on the distance. Then there are clothes, accessories, running gadgets, fuel, etc. Like in any sport/hobby/interest/you-name-it, a huge industry was built around running.
I was actually planning to buy a new pair of running shoes but I’m going to keep that as a return-to-running reward (RTRR for short) when the time comes. In the meantime, I can always spend that extra money on pedicures.
9. Not being so hungry all the darn time.
I don’t have to eat two or three breakfasts anymore and I don’t have to hang up on my mom because it’s noon and I have to eat NOW (for the fourth time that day).
10. Anticipating the return to running.
This one is my favorite. I’m like the kid who counts sleeps until vacation or Christmas. Instead of an Advent calendar, I’m wishing for a running calendar that will tell me how many days I have left before I can run again. In my case, it’s all about my CBC results. My doctor wants my hemoglobin count to be back to 9 as soon as possible (and to be honest with you, I really want it to go back to the 13.5 I started with before I was diagnosed with this colitis thingy!) so any increase in number is going to get me majorly excited.
Cons of Not Running
1. Losing my sanity, sense of identity or just straight out depression.
Just ask any runner how we depend on the sport to keep us sane and feeling good about ourselves. However, I think this con can easily be counteracted. My tip? Just make sure you keep your routine as close to possible as the way it was when you were running. Did you go on a run every morning before work? Then do whatever you plan on replacing running with at the same time. Keep a routine going… you want to avoid drastically changing things. I really have to come up with a new schedule for myself in the next day or two so I can make that happen.
2. Runner envy.
You know when you’re driving your car and you see a runner on the sidewalk and you think “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO GO FOR A RUN RIGHT NOW!”
Yeah, that’s what I mean.
3. Losing my endurance and fitness.
That one makes me sad. But just like running, it will come back. So I’m not too worried about it.
4. Forgetting to do things that I used to do right after my runs like picking up the mail and… showering.
The mailman knows when I’m not running. Guess I’m going to have to find another way to remind myself to get the mail. And showering? It’s pretty obvious why you need it after a sweaty run or workout. But what if you don’t sweat anymore? Don’t deal with the humidity anymore? And WHEN are you supposed to shower exactly?
I wish I had answers.
This goes with having more time. I’m not feeling remotely threatened by boredom right now. With work slowly but surely creeping back up at my office, my new blog and all the things I’ve got to do around the house this weekend, I’m pretty sure all the non-running minutes will be filled with something to do.
What? Twice as many pros as cons in taking a running break? That can’t be, can it?
Truth be told, I’d much rather be running than not running. I just love it and everything it brings to my life. But since I’m being forced on this break, I might as well find ways to enjoy it, don’t you think?
Runners, care to add to my list of pros and cons of taking a running break?