Resting is recovery. Resting IS recovery. Resting is . . . well . . . it’s hard. I’m a person of routine, and running is part of it. Running, moving, getting outside is part of me. It makes me better. I can focus, I’m more patient, and more productive. When I rest I find myself restless and am not sure what to do with my pent up energy.
It’s a distinct feeling as compared to tapering. For a taper, I’m relieved for some rest and recovery. I’m motivated to save my energy for an upcoming race or hard effort. I have an end goal. But, extended periods of rest are a bit more difficult for me.
I like to take an off-season from competitions. I need the mental reset. Generally my off-season is October until my first race of the season in May, which leaves me with no real goals until the following Spring. Of course I’m running during that time, but my intention is to reduce volume and intensity; I do easy running mixing in skiing and strength work. This time is important for me mentally and physically, so I feel rejuvenated when it’s time to train hard again.
Logically I can talk my way through this, but when it’s actually time to rest, to recover and take a break, I struggle. Maybe you can blame this on my type ‘A’ personality, my goal-oriented way of thinking, my determination and discipline? All of these qualities make me a great runner and hard working; however, they also make it hard for me to chill out!
I spent the Summer in Europe racing. I was focused, training every day, making sure I was prepared for the challenging races I committed to. So, once it was over and I returned home, I found myself at a loss. I was bored, unhappy and dissatisfied. It wasn’t due to disappointment – I was happy with my season – so what was it, this profound sense of uneasiness? I went searching for it, trying to run through the boredom and uncertainty. I would stay in Boulder during the week to teach my classes, and then I would take off for 4 days, meeting up with friends or spending time in the mountains alone in hopes of shaking this unease.
I didn’t find it. I only ran into tears, fatigue and more dissatisfaction. I wasn’t giving myself permission to enjoy the down time. I was terrified of where my mind would go, what I would do with my time, of feeling unproductive.
Finally, after too many runs spent crying and wondering why I was still pushing, I realized rest was really what I needed. In fact, after a few days, I got pretty good at it. I just needed permission to rest, and some time to figure out the transition; to establish a new routine.
I’m learning these periods of relaxing and allowing myself to move at a slower pace are a treat. I come back stronger, more motivated and eager. There are definitely days where I have to be more patient and not be so hard on myself, but those days are getting easier. I’m letting myself rest into greatness.