Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sole food

It's about time.

Time for a much needed break from the pounding on the road. Nothing dramatic, I'm in the midst of taking a little--2 weeks--break from running and I have to admit that it feels pretty good. This is the first time in my 20+ years of running that I've taken a voluntary break. Any time I've taken off in the past has been due to pregnancy, surgery, and of course, injury. Mostly injury. No injury now, but I have a few aches and pains that are telling me I need a rest, and I'm listening to that, for a change. 

source
I'm not always good at listening to my body, which is how, over the years, I've ended up with just about every injury in the book, including 2 stress fractures in my feet. Out of every body part affected by running, my feet seem to give me the most trouble. I wrote about this last year, and right now, some of those ghosts from the past are whispering in my ear. Pssssttttt:

Left heel pain? Oh, no you don't.
Plantar fasciitis? Go away.
Foot cramps? Ever get those? Will time off make them stop?
And my nemesis, my left big toe, keeps barking at me. Simmer down, old frenemy.

Coming over the bridge at about mile 11--Great Western Half Marathon
At the start of last Sunday's race, while I was really dragging, I felt some sharp pains in that toe. I adjusted my gait, but it wasn't until my legs lightened up that the pain went away. It's become very clear to me that when I'm "off", I'm landing hard on that toe and aggravating it. The pain is a reminder that I have some work to do, and incentive for me to get on the floor and do those exercises Becky prescribed:

Clamshells and more Clamshell variations;
Bicycles forward and backwards;
Kickbacks;
Supermans and more Supermans;
and more Kickbacks.
Monster walks and Side Steps with the resistance band,
Pistol squats.

All in the name of strengthening those hips. All to keep me from landing on the toe.

Side plank variation
Yoga continues, all in the name of strength and flexibility. I do a class in the studio once a week and a class at home. My toe doesn't like high lunge and I have to adjust my planks to avoid putting pressure on that joint. I used to do jumpbacks in my vinyasas...not so much anymore. Landing wrong on that toe? Ouch. Namaste.

20 miles in the Forest Preserve today!
But because I'm an adrenaline junkie, I can't not move, and so I'm riding my bike. I do love my bike, and taking it to those forest preserve paths where I do so much running helps quiet my craving for speed. Sometimes I feel like I could fly...and then a walker or a dog steps into the path and breaks my concentration. The roads around here aren't any better for riding--there are potholes and assholes--so I find if I go early in the day, the bike path is the best bet. My feet thank me for pedalling instead of running.

I pamper these hard working guys too. In the morning while I drink my coffee, I put my feet on the heating pad, to loosen them up. That really seems to help, and especially in the cold mornings, it feels great too. I rub a special massage oil called The Runners' Choice into them before I go to bed. Once a month, I get a pedicure, which has become less of a treat and more of a treatment. Plus, the pretty toenails is a win.

Finally, I never wear heels anymore--that puts too much pressure on my toes and ouch! It's just not worth it. I've become a champion of the comfort shoe. I wear Danskos to work and my used running shoes everywhere else. No more fashion for me. 

I'm hoping to avoid this!
All this for my feet. I'm feeling pretty good now, after only a couple days off. Staying on top of my foot issues has really helped. My feet feel pretty good. Have you ever noticed that how your feet feel seems to affect your overall well being? 

What I've also noticed this week, more than anything, is this feeling of contentment I've been walking around with. Overall, I feel calm and more relaxed. I don't know if it's that post race high--I felt this way after the marathon--or if it's just knowing that I'm done with racing for a while. I won't be training for anything until I start marathon training mid-summer. While I love having a goal and training for a race, I really like how I'm feeling now. I worked hard the past 3 months. When I look back, I can't believe all that I accomplished-- the workouts I did, the speedwork I put in, the miles I ran, and the races I finished. Goals were met. I feel satisfied. It's a good feeling.

PRs and AGs. Wow.

Time to pull the sled again...
In a week, I'll start running again, but it will just be for fun for a while. Marathon training starts in about 6 weeks. For now, I'll get to ride my bike more. Becky's going to have me lifting weights again. It's a great place to be. Mentally, I feel good. Calm. Satisfied.

I like it. As hard as this is, I'm really, really glad that I decided to do this, to take a break, so that running doesn't break me. I'm working on that goal I set for myself in January--to stay injury free. Because none of my other goals are achievable if I'm hurt.

Yep, Becky, you can say, "I told you so". Everyone needs time off. Because as always, you were right.

Do you ever take a break from running? Voluntarily? How has it helped you? If you don't, why not? And what do you do to keep yourself from going crazy without running?

I'm linking this post with Tara's Weekend Update! Head over to RunningNReading to check it out!












Also linking up with My Tuesdays on the Run friends, Erica, April, and Patti. Find out why taking a break is a good thing!

85 comments :

  1. I'm on a two week break before my Half Marathon to let my Planter Fasciitis heal. In some ways the break from all the training is nice, but then I am so much more irritable and grumpy because I am not running!
    One more week! I can do this.

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    1. That's what I keep telling myself! Just one more week....one more week...

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  2. Smart move my friend. I know it's rough not being able to run. And I'm with ya on the fashion. Not worth it.

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    1. Just one week to go. I'm feeling pretty good now!

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  3. You are almost there! One more week! You are handling it like a champ and I love that you are biking to mix it up! I haven't taken a no running break in a while but I do go between no training, low miles to training. I slow down a lot and walk for parts of my run. It's a good break!

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    1. I walked this morning, listening to my running music, and it was ok! A few more days of this, tho, and I"ll be ready to get moving again. LOL.

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  4. I'm totally with ya on this, Girlfriend! (although my running break won't be happening until August). As you know, I do ease back on my mileage over the winter, but I typically never actually stop running. I'm eager to start PT tomorrow, and get some input on exercises to fine-tune my recovery as I head into (head-on!) my marathon and ultra. #likeminds

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    1. I've never actually stopped like this, and I have to say that initially it felt great. Now I'm missing my old friend, running, and I can't wait to get back at it.

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  5. Wendy, glad to hear you are taking a break before you are forced to take a break. I took one last fall because I needed it (I think mentally more than physically). I just didn't want to run. When I finally came back I was excited again and have made some good progress this spring. I am amazed at how much less pounding cycling has on your feet. I'm starting to increase my long run distances now and I get the tender toes - especially when I'm doing a lot of hill running (I think the downhills do it). Cycling will leave the rest of my legs a tired and sore mess - especially after those 4+ hour hilly rides. But the toes are fine!

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    1. I couldn't get out on the bike today because it was raining, and I was sad about that. I walked, but that doesn't give my feet a break at all!

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  6. I rode my bike today. I forgot how much I like it - and it's nothing fancy, believe me. It's surely not designed for speed. I do not wear high heels, ever. I just can't risk turning my ankle over. I hope your toe will be better after your rest period!

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    1. Right there with you. No more high heels. I actually never could wear them!

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  7. You are wise indeed! You will so feel the benefit of your break time. I admire the fact you cycle. I have to try to do that more.
    BTW - loving your sunglasses. I'm on a sunglass research binge at the moment. Do they work well for you?

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    1. I love those sunglasses. They're by Smith Optics and the lenses are interchangeable--so depending on the light level, I pick a lens. It was sunny that day, so I went with the dark lens. They also wrap around and keep most everything out of my eyes. The pollen was bad that day, tho and I still had some issues.

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  8. I don't wear heels anymore either. It is what is it is I suppose. I do love the look of heels :)

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    1. Yep, I'm all about the ugly comfort shoes now...

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  9. I'm finding that I'm in a forced break. Mostly because Blue Ridge took a lot out of me and the season has seemed to go from winter directly to summer. Now I'm finding myself trying to get acclimated to the temps soon than I thought I'd have to. YUCK.

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    1. Ugh. I keep waiting for our warm weather to stick around so I can get used to it. It keeps coming and going...

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  10. You are a beast! Yes we have to take a break sometimes no matter how much we may dislike it. Good choice 😊

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    1. I keep telling myself that this is good for me! Now that I'm in week 2, I'm really missing running.

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  11. I enjoyed my week off- heavenly :) I am back at it this morning! I have been lucky and have not really had many problems other than they just don't move fast enough! LOL! I still wear high heels every day to work and thank goodness the feet are holding up! Have a great week!

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  12. Check you out in that side plank! Taking time off to give your body a rest is a smart idea for sure. I always plan to but then don't until I have to. You've had some pretty amazing races lately and taking a little break is a great idea.

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    1. Oh, I know it was the right thing to do, but it's not the easy thing to do! LOL...

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  13. smart move! being proactive about this will keep you running for a long time. i only wear heels at weddings, formal events and work events (but always carry flats w/me). :)

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    1. Oh, I always used to bring comfy shoes with me but now I just wear them!

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  14. Its always important to listen to your body, especially when its screaming for extra rest. Hopefully you'll be feeling ready to get back at it in no time.

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  15. Glad you're enjoying the downtime! Especially as we age (not that we are or anything) I think it's SO important to listen and find what works rather than think we have to push through. I've always been a fan of the "runbattical", so much so that I've named them that. It's a time of focusing on other, activities that support running, rather than on running itself.Oh to think of the heels I wore many moons ago....

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    1. I like that! Runbattical. I'm using that one...

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  16. That side plank looks hard, I need to try that. Love the race picture, you look so strong! and I love the pink top.
    I am so new into running I haven't really volunteered for a break, just the tibial stress fracture break I was forced to recently take. As my leg is pulsing today from my mileage last week,I am sitting here reading this thinking i need to do myself a favor and rest this week.
    Hope the foot gets to feeling better!

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    1. It actually wasn't hard at all, against the wall like that. Much hard to side plank in the middle of the floor, with only my arm to hold me up!

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  17. Sometimes you just need to take a bit of time off.... your body seems to be sending signals. I love to swim, which is my go to activity when my body is sending me signals. I hear you about heals.... I don't wear them any more if I can avoid it and my feet are loving me for it. Have a great week.

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    1. Yep, I actually think I've learned a little something after 2 bouts with the boot...

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  18. I have taken breaks from cycling before because it is just too rough on the body. My knees and hips revolt!

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  19. This post made me laugh. My feet are my source of misery - metatarsal stress fracture, broken 5th metatarsal strained achilles, my big toe is buggin me now on one foot and the ball of the my foot on the other.

    I have not been taking a break but I have been cutting down - slow 3 milers which will be the death of me on my May 24 half marathon.

    I don't bike unless I can't run but when I do, I like it.

    Enjoy the time off.

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    1. I hope it stops raining so I can get back on the bike! At least with running, you can go in the rain...

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  20. Wendy, I think it's great that you are listening to your body and giving it the time that it needs to get back on track. I think the last time I took time off from running was for about a month in May 2013; I was away from home and not in my normal routine and used it as an opportunity to let my ankle (it was bothering me at the time) get some rest. I felt so much better afterward! I hope things go well and I'm glad you're getting some time on the bike! Thanks so much for linking up with the blog and I hope your week is off to a great start!

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    1. I'm feeling so much better after just one week off, I know it was the right thing to do. Now I'm getting antsy...

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  21. Good for you for listening to your body. I always find it so hard to do (I've always been programed to push through), but sometimes some time off is just what you need. While training for my first half last fall, I had chronic left big toe pain by the end of it. And, I'm trying to focus more on my hips as well. Enjoy your break!

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    1. Oooh, that big toe....seems like it's an issue for a lot of us!

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  22. Sorry you are feeling achy and painy, but also respecting that you are taking some down time. It's NOT easy for any of us, but I'll tell you what--I'm pretty convinced it works. Any time I feel anything these days, I test it and then give it a day or two of rest if it doesn't clear. Seems to be working beautifully when combined with my regular prehab.

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    1. I'm feeling so much better after a week off. I'm ready and raring to go...only one more week left...

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  23. Good for you!! It is hard to walk away from running for a while (especially voluntarily), but I have found it to be restorative as well. I did it after my half marathon last year, and while it was difficult to let my shoes collect a little dust, in the end it left me feeling mentally and physically recharged when I got back into it.

    I also find your committment to strength training so inspiring. I really need to focus on this more!! I know it would help me immensely with speed, as well as injury prevention (though I've been lucky on that front thus far, knock on wood). I just feel so much less motivated to do it vs. going for a run!

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    1. But I do have a coach to push me to do that strength training. I don't think I'd be so diligent if I didn't have her pushing me (and if I weren't seeing such awesome results!). I'm looking forward to running again.

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  24. I have definitely taken voluntary breaks from running and it does me so much good both mentally and physically! You are doing the right thing, and you are in an even better place because you are embracing it and relishing in it. Enjoy!

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    1. This week is definitely more challenging! LOL!

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  25. I need a break from running at least 1-2 times every year. Not that I stop working out totally, but I do other things. My marathon training starts in about 6 weeks as well!

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    1. Oh, yes, it's called active recovery for a reason!

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  26. I took a week of voluntarily which was nice, but now I'm on an unplanned break from running until Thursday and it's killing me! I applaud your patience!

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    1. On the outside I'm patient..on the inside, not so much! And it doesn't help that it's rained almost every day, so I can't take my bike out...

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  27. You look amazing in your side plank! I do good to hold myself up just a split second, but I'm working on that 2-3 times a week now. Slow progress but progress none the less! I haven't been running long enough for a break ha but I did cut down on my mileage while I was running half's this spring and added biking and strength training and yes my times were better.

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  28. Sounds like you are getting that listening to your body thing down! I also need to keep up with the clamshells, sidesteps and side raises. It all makes running so much easier and for me, keeps my IT band from flaring. Enjoy the "downtime!"

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    1. I was enjoying my break, but now I'm starting to get kind of antsy!

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  29. I'm a big fan of taking periodic breaks and listening to your body if it's telling you to rest.
    I like to take 1-2 weeks off after a race, and then just run for fun until my next training cycle starts up. The mental break is as important as the physical break.

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    1. I think you're right! I was hoping to get more bike rides in but Mother Nature has other plans, apparently...

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  30. Impressive amount of stuff you do - and wow, that side plank! I'm trying more and more to do weight training, to do something beyond just running. Thanks for the inspiration.

    And thanks for dropping by my blog today - my first Weekend Update linkup! And heck yes, I LOVE veggie bacon! LOL

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    1. I can only go for the hard stuff, real bacon, it's like crack! LOL!

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  31. An occasional break does the body good. Yay for strong hips :)

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    1. I so agree on both points! But I do miss running this week...

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  32. Sounds like you are doing exactly what your body needs. I know that taking a break is hard it will be worth it in the long run. (says someone that had to stop for six months because of a hip injury).

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    1. Been there before...I'm trying to avoid anything long term, for sure!

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  33. I always take breaks. It's a great way to avoid burn out

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  34. Breaks are so great mentally and physically. Most of mine have been forced but I am trying to be better about that. Biking can be such a great alternative as it is low impact. Enjoy the rest!

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    1. I'd love to get out and ride more but the weather has been less than cooperative!

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  35. I've never taken a voluntary break from running. But every since my stress fracture in October - I listen a lot more to my body. Even if I'm still sore from a race or from a long run, I take more time "off" from running. I try to stay as ache/pain free as possible. I also listen to my body if I'm tired. My mind will tell me to sleep in instead of that 4:45 alarm every so often. Good for you Wendy! I saw you snuck in a couple today! :)

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    1. I did! With permission from my coach. Last time I cheated, she made me do burpees.

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  36. I took a break and went to crossfit for a year. Loved it and then loved running even more when I got back into it!

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    1. Do you still do crossfit? I do it once a week, and it has helped my running so much!

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  37. I took a break from working out over the winter. I was starting to get really bored with my workouts and it wasn't really working for me mentally anymore. But now, I'm in a place where I'm ready to pick it back up and I've been loving my workouts.

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  38. I took a one-month break from running in college due to injury, and have had a few other breaks of a couple weeks here and there. I was surprised at how much my legs were itching to hit the pavement again afterwards! These breaks can do absolute wonders for the mind and the body. Yay for all the cross-training and strength work you are doing in the meantime. Biking and yoga are saviors while taking a respite from running!

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    1. I wish our weather would cooperate a little more! I'd love to get some more miles on the bike.

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  39. Thanks for the reminded to continue to focus on strengthening my hips.

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    1. I'll be heading to the floor shortly to do that as well!

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  40. LOL actually I DO take a break from running. Voluntary or otherwise. Sometimes I just do not feel like running so I don't. They started a Summer Runner's World Streak again and while I wanted to participate - it started yesterday and I wasn't running 1 mile once I woke up late and didn't meet the women for our morning run. LAZY I know. And since you can't make up the mile you didn't run the day before - I'm out before I even got started but I will continue to run. :-)

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    1. I'm not much of a streaker...my feet couldn't take the pounding!

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  41. Great post Wendy! Taking a voluntary break is so good for your body! I'll be coming up to a short running break soon and I've already been stepping up the yoga so I'm hoping it will be an opportunity to work on my weaker areas and give my feet a rest! But I can't think about that until after my race on June 13! :)

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    1. I enjoyed my break but I"m so glad to be back on the road!

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  42. I'm busy over here doing the same thing. Even though I came out of my training cycle with no real aches and pains, I was bordering on burnout. I, too, have about 4-6 weeks until marathon training starts, so I'm taking it easier on my body in regards to running and am trying to focus more on weights.

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    1. I'm now starting to up my miles again. Slow, tho. And yes to the weights.

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