A Break From Running

Finding my own balance

So I have a confession to make. Me, lover of all things running, gave my little legs a restful hiatus over the past few months. I pushed my worn-out (although, I like to think perfectly worn-in) running shoes to the side, tucked my favorite, super lightweight running shorts in their proper drawer, and kissed my Girl Talk, hip hop-filled playlist goodbye for awhile. Heck, I even cut back a little on my fresh-air intake, something I’m rarely fond of doing.

Why? When running starts to become a chore rather than a recreational release, you know it’s time for a break. At least, that’s how I run my life, no pun intended. So this is what happened to me. As my life started to become busier and busier, running began to appear as just another thing on my mental list that needed to be crossed off. I felt tired. Uninspired. Worn-out, but not in that good way that was letting my favorite pair of Asics reap a ton of comfortable benefits. I simply became bored with running, and life’s daily stresses were drawing me away from a once loved activity. So that’s when I knew. I was going to take a hiatus from running for however long I needed. No guilt. No regrets. But instead, tons and tons of stress-relieving, rejuvenating yoga.

So my second confession? Not running felt amazing. It freed up sometime for me to further pursue other activities (i.e. YOGA!) and also gave me a little extra time just to relax. I can’t say it was entirely easy, giving up something you’re used to doing day in and day out. Especially when you have a roommate training for a half marathon (which she completed in excellent time, woohoo!). But the more I focused on yoga, the better I felt. I began to see that I didn’t need running to make my life complete or make me feel (or look) good. It was almost like freeing myself from an addiction, although certainly not that extreme. Eventually, I found that the break helped me not only regenerate my energy but my desire to start getting those legs and arms of mine pumping again too.

So, after a few months, I’ve slowly started running again. The first run…yeah, it was a little tough. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t lose a little stamina. (I’m a firm believer that yoga can make you as strong as a tiger, but to be as fast as a cheetah, well, you need a little cardiovascular work too.) My breath was heavy, and I was giving myself a pat on the back and calling it a day after just two miles. All just a normal part of taking a break. According to Runner’s World, within just 21 days your muscles’ aerobic enzymes (key chemicals that help produce the energy you need to run) fall by 25% or more. And a several week break is guaranteed to add a minute to your superstar 5-K time. But who cares. I actually found running for just 20 minutes to be more enjoyable than ever before. And only a couple runs later, I’m already doubling my miles, getting back in the groove of my normal running times. It’s called muscle memory.

Now, I look at running more as a luxury rather than a chore.  And like yoga, it’s once again become a stress-reliever, rather than a stress-generator. What better time to come to this feeling than in between the holidays, when I probably could use a little stress-relief and a holiday cookie-burning sweat the most.

The bottom line and reason I’ve shared this today is that if you want to take a break, then do it. Whether it be from running, cooking, yoga, or anything you might find yourself becoming bored with. No matter how healthy the activity is, losing a happy balance in life is never truly healthy. No regrets. No guilt. Nothing to lose. The activity will always be there for you if you decide you may want to come back to it. For me, I’ll always be a runner. But I will never let running run my life.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a few things I discovered over the hiatus…like maybe running isn’t the best way to shed weight? At least for me.

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  • Reply
    December 6, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Sounds like you knew it was the right time to take a break/make a change. I think that too often we keep doing things because we think that we have to or that it is expected so we can’t let others down. Sometimes it is just necessary to regroup and rethink things.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I loved this post fff!

  • Reply
    Tweets that mention A Break From Running « Food-Fitness-FreshAir -- Topsy.com
    December 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by janine stein, Grace Dickinson. Grace Dickinson said: Coming from a runner, sometimes not #running is better than a #run http://bit.ly/ffsvxS […]

  • Reply
    December 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I loved this post!!!!! and especially loved this! “For me, I’ll always be a runner. But I will never let running run my life.”

    I am happy that you found the balance that you needed =)

  • Reply
    Discoveries from a Running Break « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    December 7, 2010 at 6:25 am

    […] yesterday I blogged about taking a break from running for a couple months. If you’re not an avid runner, this may seem trivial. But most people who […]

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I am taking a break from blogging for an undecided amount of time maybe 2 months maybe a year. I posted this on my blog only a couple hours ago. Since then I have been worried that I made an irrational decision. Luckily I stumbled accross this post this morning. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Michael Bennett
    July 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    i, as well, have taken a break from running, and have felt God awful guilty about it. I needed reassurance that taking a break from such a huge part of my life was ok. Years of running, it has grown to be a part of me, and not doing it, was secretly wonderful, yet left with a feeling of failure. Thank you for making me see it’s ok to take a break, and to understand why we do. Even if we’re not running, we’re still runners. I know i’ll return soon to the “club”, and i’ll do it when my body is ready and my mind is ready. It is such a delicate balance. Thank you

  • Reply
    April 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been very gradually coming to this point in my own life, and have a two-month trip ahead that will make running virtually impossible due to the nature of my destination. It is very reassuring to hear your extremely positive experience with “freeing” yourself from running and exploring different methods of staying healthy, mentally and physically!

    • Reply
      April 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Absolutely! I’m a firm believer that when something non-mandatory in life starts to feel like a constant chore, it’s not worth doing. Sure, staying healthy and fit is important, but there are tons of ways to do so. It’s not worth obsessing over! Enjoy your trip, and consider doing some yoga – that’s one activity you can literally do almost anywhere.

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