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Staying Off-Track {Embracing Rest}

This isn’t a post about getting back on track after a weekend of holiday indulgence.

It’s not about cleaning up my diet, giving up the sweets, eating more vegetables, and abstaining from alcohol until 2013.

It’s not about ramping up my mileage, getting slim and trim, or how to lose weight during the holiday season.

This post is, in fact, about the exact opposite. (I’m pretty sure we’ve all read enough of those other posts to last us the rest of the year, anyway…)

Rest. Relaxation. Not training.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I really (reallyreally) love the breaks between training seasons. Rest isn’t just an important part of physical recovery, it’s also essential mentally. Even though I didn’t run the most competitive training cycle ever, my mind has still been craving the “off” season. When there’s no pressure to hit mileage goals. No pressure to run fast. …no pressure to run at all, really.

I usually take a one-week-no-activity break after marathons. This has been a non-negotiable part of my training regimen since high school (just replace “marathon” with “cross country/track season.”) But since I raced Ragnar Vegas right after MCM, this year was a little different. Strangely enough, I felt better after the relay than I did after the marathon, so I didn’t take a full week off then either. I was too fired up and excited about running to take more than a couple days of complete rest.

Luckily, logic soon caught up to me and I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors by continuing to hit the pavement. Although I think my body is pretty much recovered from my back-to-back race weekends, mentally I’m not quite there yet. I need time to breathe. Time to think about things other than running. Time to take a step back and come up with my game plan for 2013.

marathon readingOff-season reading

I have big goals for next year – the elusive marathon PR being one of them (which I’m officially naming Operation #goodbye318). In a few weeks, I’m going to start working very hard toward that goal. But before I can do that, I need to make sure my body and my mind are ready. I need time to get excited about training again. To crave mileage and speed work and hill workouts and all that other painful stuff that you need to do in order to get faster.

Eventually I’ll get to the point where not running stops feeling great and starts making me feel like the biggest sloth in the entire world. The point where if I don’t run right this second I’ll certainly go crazy. But I’m not there yet. The couch is still calling to me. And long walks with the dog and my husband sound way more appealing than long runs alone.

So for the next two weeks, my “no-plan” plan is to run when I feel like it, slowly start lifting again (because every single muscle besides my quads is seriously out of shape), and work in more cross training.

But mostly, my plan is to rest. To eat what I want. Spend time decorating for Christmas and watching holiday movies instead of working out. To see family as much as possible and to really enjoy this time of year.


Right now I have one more race on the schedule for 2012, but it’s a fun one…not a PR effort. Evan and I are signed up for the It’s a Wonderful Run 5K in Seneca Falls, NY on December 8th. It’s a Wonderful Life is my all-time favorite Christmas movie, and this run is set up to be a celebration of that movie – including a start on the Bridge Street Bridge, which is supposedly the inspiration for the bridge scenes in the movie. Plus, Janie and Zuzu are going to be there! I seriously can’t wait.

Other than that, I’ll be over here truly embracing rest. The only PRs I expect to set from now until the end of the year are in cookie-eating. It’s going to be a good month.


18 Responses to Staying Off-Track {Embracing Rest}

  1. 8 weeks ago i missed BQ by 95 seconds, took a week off and jumped right back into hard training. I am racing this weekend as my redemption race and i cant WAIT for it to be over! I agree 100% with the mental breaks! Good for you!!

  2. I’ve run the It’s a Wonderul Run the last 2 years! Such a great race! Zuzu was the starter! Good luck!
    Amy´s last post ..Pie and Glove Recap and Other Thoughts.

  3. Holy shit, excuse my language, but we HAVE to meet up! You are coming to MY area and running a race that I’m running! We did it last year and it is amazing!
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman´s last post ..Never a Dull Moment

  4. How refreshing to hear a running blogger talk about taking a break instead of how many more miles can I get in this week? Enjoy every minute of your break…you’ve certainly earned it!
    Lori´s last post ..Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

  5. I need to learn to be better about taking a break. I jumped from one training cycle right in to another one and I’m already burnt out. Hopefully I get back some of my lost motivation.

    Sounds like your plan for the next month is a solid one, you can never go wrong with eating cookies!
    Steph @ Steph Runs On´s last post ..Birthday Cake, Pumpkin Pie and Very Little Running! Oh My!

  6. As much as I love being in training for whatever my next race is, I’m really starting to see the importance of the other side of it… the time off, the relaxed weeks, the slow rebuild. I’ll be right there with you for a low-key December of rest and non-focused-training.
    Cathleen´s last post ..Philly Marathon splits, photos, details, and what’s next.

  7. I totally agree with this, I took a month off after my big Autumn race and I really enjoyed it and came away feeling rested and ready to run hard again instead of burned out and tired!! Enjoy the rest! LOVELY photo of you and Evan. We are in Tokyo for three weeks which is amazing and we are loving it, but it means no Christmas tree until we get back mid December and I’m feeling a little tree envy :)
    Cathryn@My Heart’s Content´s last post ..Welcome to Tokyo!

  8. Do you want to do a juice cleanse with me? <3
    Ali´s last post ..With One Month To Go

  9. first I love love love that picture of the 2 of you.
    Joy, love, happiness…and sunshine smile!

    I wish I could be more like you and be able to really rest but I am afraid I would not get back to where I am at now..I am also afraid I would loose my mind and be well…grumpy…I do take breaks from training plans though..even if I participate in a several races…They are not all “goal” races..some are just for fun. Enjoy this time Lauren!
    caroline´s last post ..Turkey Trot Race Recap

  10. THANK YOU. I am SO tired of reading about how eating too much for a few days is the end of the world if we don’t completely restrict in the following weeks. LIVE LIFE! Okay…enough ranting. Looking forward to hearing about your take on the Advanced Marathoning book. Not sure if you will be posting your training or not, but I am always interested in seeing how others train :)
    Corey´s last post ..A Follow-Up Post…

  11. Your running break sounds pretty perfect! I’m sure it’s just what you need to re-energize and head into a new year.

    And the Seneca Falls race sounds awesome! I was in Seneca Falls last Winter, and I wish I was planning an early December trip back because I would love to run that race. Love It’s a Wonderful Life!
    Mary´s last post ..Christmas Running Wish List

  12. Ha! I love the name- Operation #Goodbye318! No doubt you will crush that in 2013!

    I have both those books and love them- Advanced Marathoning in particular. Enjoy the break- and the cookies! :-)
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom´s last post ..It’s gonna hurt…

  13. Enjoy! Sometimes taking time off makes you love it even more! :)
    Mattie @ Comfy & Confident´s last post ..Aspen

  14. […] I am not on the “I need to get back on track” bandwagon after Thanksgiving and I honestly don’t really get it. Why can’t you indulge for a couple of days and then go back to your normal lifestyle without a big ado? My friend Lauren also touched on the subject here. […]

  15. i love your balance-seriously, it is refreshing to read. enjoy all the cookies :)
    elizabeth´s last post ..What’s Really Going On

  16. QUESTION: How much Vermont cheese will be eaten during this “rest period”?

    PS – Leave a wheel of your finest cheese on the window seal for your stalker.
    Jocelyn @ Enthusiastic Runner´s last post ..Philly Marathon Recap

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