It’s OK to take some time off.
Yeah, it’s a good thing to slow down, rest up, and back off a relentless schedule.
It’s smart to know when to turn back.
These little phrases have been a mantra of sorts for me all year. Life got in the way quite a bit, when I found myself working odd jobs on top of my full-time job just to make ends meet. As you might have guessed, training for races, hikes and climbs took a hit.
I rallied a bit, but following a time where I ran a half marathon and a hard 5K in the span of six days (in addition to some other, difficult training runs), I let off the gas.
For nine months.
In the beginning of the year, I had goals to train up for bigger races. But after that last week of November, I was sore, beat up and tired. I backed off for a week, which was a good thing. And then I backed off for several weeks, and then several months. Most weeks, I ran no more than 20 miles, which is fine unless you want to get fast and build endurance for longer races. Truth be told, I was putting in more like 12 to 15 miles a week. That’s a far cry from the 30 to 40 I was doing when I was in top condition.
As you might have guessed, I didn’t enter a race that entire time. Sure, I “ran” in the Snake Run in March, but that was more or less me running between aid stations, socializing, and enjoying a few adult beverages with friends. I didn’t race. I visited with buddies and jogged for about 11 miles.
When summer arrived, I had big HUGE plans. I’d summit seven peaks in a week! Uh, no. I attempted two and got one, a pretty but unassuming 13,000-foot mountain not far from Denver. When it came to doing one of the Rockies’ real bad boys, I was turned back by weather.
Conditioning didn’t get me on these, and there’s no shame in listening to the mountain when it says no. But compared to summers past, bagging one peak on a short, simple route is far less than epic.
Now before I go much further, let me preface the following that 2015 hasn’t been a total bust. Strength training is going well, and helping out with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition has been rewarding and successful. I’m still working that full-time job and picking up spare jobs here and there, so it’s not like I’ve been loafing.
But the lack of racing, low mileage and not much to show for my efforts in the high country had me feeling a bit down. So this led me to a decision. This past weekend, I resolved not to suck.
I entered a race, the Fleet Feet Quarter Marathon, basically a 10K+ road race that’s a tune-up for next month’s Tulsa Run. I didn’t run it fast or particularly well. But I ran it, dammit. I entered, ran, and crossed a finish line.
Next month will be the Tulsa Run, a 15K that’s a classic around these parts. I’m going to run that. And three weeks after that, there’s the Route 66 Marathon. I’ll run the half in that.
There’s even a chance of running another race with a relative after Thanksgiving, and maybe finding a little trail time in the Smokies of eastern Tennessee if I play my cards right. Maybe I’ll get to summit something!
So in saying that, I’m resolving to not suck all autumn long.
Some of you might be a little put-off by the negative self-talk, or perhaps a tad worried. Don’t be. And don’t feel like I’m saying people who don’t race all the time, lift a ton and regularly stand atop tall piles of rock are unworthy. My advice to anyone reading this is simple: You do you, and do it as best as you can.
And that’s the point here. This is a personal self-analysis, one in which I realize I don’t feel like I’m living up to my potential if I’m not setting some goals, striving for something, and battling a few demons. This is how I grow, and if I’m not pushing myself, I’m not growing. Most importantly, if I’m not growing by choice, that sucks.
So there it is. I had my season(s) of rest, recovery, passivity and even sloth. It was fun while it lasted. But it’s over. To continue on that path would be a choice, and a bad one at that. So I choose not to suck.