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Taking a Break Will Help Your Running Life

03/15/2015 10:55 EDT | Updated 05/15/2015 05:59 EDT
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Woman running alone on beautiful sunset in the beach. Summer sport and freedom concept. Athlete training on dusk.

For the last three February's I have taken a break from running. Not running is brutally hard for me, but I figure if I have to give up my passion, I should do it in Winter. I hate being cold!!

Even so, I always hate the first few days of the challenge, running is my "bliss". I look forward to it. I always feel better afterwards!

One of my favorite kathleenisms is that I am only ever one workout away from a better mood.

Now, I am sure you are thinking, if she loves running so much why the annual break? I admit, at first glance it does seem slight counter-intuitive.

Resting and cross-training are just plain smart. Not prioritizing recover and cross training is a recipe for future injury.

I want to run for the rest of my life, so I have to treat my body with respect. Running is hard on the body. Every time your foot hits the ground your body has to absorb six times your weight. To recover from this pounding your tissues need REST, cross-training, appropriate nutrition and water.

Luckily, I love trying new workouts and when I don't run I have free time to experiment and try new classes.

Lastly, and this is hard for me to admit to myself and to you, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I need to learn alternative coping mechanisms. Being active is how I deal with stress and manage my emotions. A while back my therapist asked me how I would deal with stress if I couldn't run? Now, obviously I hope to always be able to run, but it was a scary question because currently I have almost no other ways of de-stressing. So in February I decided to experiment with alternative coping methods such as deep breathing and meditation. I am not good at either, I but I am trying!

So, I survived the month. After about three days I didn't miss running that much, partly because I got really into indoor rowing. I rowed in high school and I had forgotten how much I liked it. Rowing gives me the same full body athletic intense workout as running, without the impact. I am enjoying rowing so much that I am considering getting back on the water this summer.

Flaman Fitness was generous enough to lend me a rower so I could train in-between clients. I also tried and LOVED interval rowing classes at Track Fitness and Ultimate Athletics in Toronto, and CityRow in New York. CityRow was row-tastic, except the place doesn't have showers which was annoying.

The other unexpected (and slightly embarrassing) positive was that I let myself watch re-runs of of Scandal while I used a treadclimber. Watching TV made the time go by so quickly, and I got to work up a sweat without the impact of running. Win, Win, Win!

Now, the negative, it was hard on my body to start running again. My inner thighs ached for two days. No wonder people find starting to run hard. It takes so long for the body adapt. The good news, it is mid March and I feel mostly like myself again! The even better news is that the break re-invigorated me, I am now excited about training for my spring races!

Main take-aways:

-find activities that you ENJOY! If you love animals, walk your dog regularly. If you are competitive, sign up for a group sport. One of the reasons I am active is that most of the time I don't have to force myself to run, I want to run, it makes me happy. At the very least, don't try to make yourself do activities you despise.

-Running is hard on the body. If you run, great, just take measures to mitigate the wear and tear it puts on the body. Stretch, cross-train, sleep, eat well and stay hydrated.

-Try rowing, you might love it!

-Sometimes a change is as good as a break. Try new activities. Mixing things up will challenge you body and may make you enjoy and appreciate running more!

-Running is often frustrating at first. Whether you are a newbie, or simply returning after a break, give it time. Don't give up. Progress slowly to avoid injury.

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