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Outside looking in: what happens when a serious runner takes a break from serious running

Outside looking in: what happens when a serious runner takes a break from serious runningMy cross country coaches taught me success comes from consistency. Day after day; week after week; month after month; year after year. I believe it. Practice it. Reap its benefits.

It’s a mountain climb. Cliche, yes, but apt. You can measure it in steps, feet, miles, even experiences. Looking back, you can see how far you’ve traveled. But with my steady and consistent eight year climb, why do I feel guilty when I’m unable to complete a workout. Or worse, the unthinkable: when I miss a long run! GASP. Shouldn’t the visible evidence of my climb be enough to silence my fears of “losing ground?”

Easier said than done.

But here’s a confession: I stopped climbing the mountain a few months ago. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped, but here’s what I’ve realized about running now that I’m on the outside, looking in.

I’m still “me” 
Who am I? The question is easy enough, but at the same time, it’s one of the more difficult ones. A close second place to what’s the meaning of life? .

Ask anyone I know, and they will tell you that I’m a runner.

But the act, the sport does not define me.

It’s something I use and abuse, practice and preach, hide behind and flaunt.

You don’t need to plan every workout to stay fit
I used to joke that running was my second full-time job. Oh boy, at times, it sure felt like it. My days and weeks, my whole life revolved around running. It controlled my bedtime, what and how much I ate or drank. It ruled everything.

Here’s a glance at my 8+ years of  running on a training plan:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Track: 6-10 x 800 meters or mile repeats
Wednesday: Easy 45 minutes
Thursday: Tempo
Friday: Easy 45 minutes
Saturday: Easy 60 minutes
Sunday: Long run. 12 miles or more

Here’s a glance at how I spent my time in the last three months.

Monday: (Cold) Yoga and plyometrics
Tuesday:  (Warm and sunny) Stroller run to park with Ada
Wednesday: (Warm and sunny) Stroller run on rail trail with Ada
Thursday: (Cold and rainy) Listen to music and dance with Ada for 45 mins. “I want Warren” (Zevon).
Friday: (Perfect weather) Long walk with family + Yoga and plyometrics
Saturday:  (Warm and sunny day) Stroller run to park with Ada

I skipped more than 10 long runs and tempos, track workouts, and hill sessions. But I no longer feel guilty. I’m happy. I’m fit. And I’m more spontaneous. More willing to try new things and go new places.

Running has a place in my life, but it is not my life.

Of course, that’s not to say that I won’t set a fierce goal for a fall half marathon. Only time will tell.

 Written by Stephen Marcin.

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