Top of the morning to you!
The Irish festivities of St. Paddy’s Day are taking me back to my adventure in Ireland last October. I ran the Dublin Marathon with my Aunt Gerri and was super proud to be there to see her cross the finish line at her first marathon at age 60. She’s a superstar!
Since running the marathon in October, I’ve been on a running hiatus. The last few years have seen me transform into more of a ‘fair-weather’ runner. As a result this winter I have been snowboarding, walking, doing yoga and enjoying what I like to call ‘The Chips and Dip Plan’.
Whether or not you subscribe to my offseason ‘training plan’ , it really is important as an athlete to take some time away from your sport occasionally. It gives your body a break which is important to help prevent injuries and to give any nagging aches and pains a chance to rest and heal.
The time away from full time training also gives you a psychological and emotional break that will help to prevent burn out and allow you to come back to your sport fresh, with renewed passion.
Many athletes that I see in my office don’t consider this and often end up with ongoing nagging injuries season after season. On top of that, when I talk to them about it, many runners feel pressured to keep running, always looking for their next race, never considering that they should take any time off.
One of the interesting things that I have learned as both an athlete and a health care provider who takes care of athletes is that athletes don’t like to be injured but even more so, they don’t like to slow down or stop when they are dealing with aches and pains and will push through anything to get to the finish line.
The other thing I’ve learned is that when an athlete finally gets to the place where they are willing to slow down or take a break from their sport because the injury finally forces it, they will become a better distance athlete for it.
Here’s why: It takes patience to deal with a repetitive strain injury and it takes patience to put one foot in front of the other for 42 000 steps in a row. You can’t speed through the healing process no matter how much you will it just as you can’t sprint an entire marathon.
So if you have been dealing with an injury that is nagging and doesn’t seem to be going away even with regular treatment or if you just can’t seem to find the joy that you once had in running….it may be time to take a season off and get away from running completely.
Go to the gym and work on your weak and imbalanced muscles that probably have contributed to the injury that is slowing you down. Take up a different sport or activity that will get you excited about something new. Spend some quality time with your friends and family who have missed you during your busy training. Or just rest.
As much as the hard core runners don’t want to do this, it is something your body needs to recover completely after a hard season of training and competition.
Trust me. Your body and mind will thank you.
Every spring after a few months off of running, when the snow starts to melt and there are birds chirping and the first brave robin hops by, I find myself yearning for the feeling of my feet hitting the pavement and that (not entirely unpleasant) feeling of my lungs burning with every step as I get back on the open road.
I feel it today. It’s sunny, 11 degrees (52 F) and it smells like spring and I’m ready to run.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Back to Running.
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. She also inspires patients from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.
I can so relate to this post! In the winter I try to do other things to break up the walking I do in the summer. In March I start walking outside and it feels so good. Back in the day when I used to run – I loved the feeling – even thought my lungs hurt – of getting started again. It makes you body feel so good to move.
To your 60 year old aunt !!! Tell her how awesome she is!!!
Having been a triathlete, I know how important it is to take breaks and change up the training during different weeks and seasons of the year, so it's good to hear that this is good practise from you Dr. Peggy. I love variety and so does my body!
Hi Dr. Peggy,
How exciting to be able to run in the Dublin Marathon. Our grand-daughter was born in Cork and lived in Bandon, Cork County six years ago. We traveled to Ireland to visit her. What a gorgeous country and to be able to run through the small narrow streets – what a rush. I hope to read more of your running posts and adventures soon.
Great advice for any field, athletics or business of life. A break helps re-frame!