It’s a new year which means resolutions are made and broken as quickly as a 5-year-old’s birthday pinata.
I’m not one to make resolutions dictated by date and time. I tend to make them when I reach a point of unacceptable frustration with myself. But I have made one decision for the upcoming year. I plan to listen to my body and take recovery more seriously.
The past two months have been a cyclone of activity. We finally moved into our new home only to host Thanksgiving dinner four days later. We stood by family tradition and dismantled much of the hard work we’d done to decorate for Christmas the very next day. Two weeks after that, we packed our bags and left for our first family cruise, a gift from my parents. We returned home two days before Christmas Eve. It was truly the most wonderful time of our year.
In all that time I ran only a handful of days. A strained back slowed me down in the beginning, but in the end my desire to run simply waned. I longed to hole up with my family and just BE. When I did run, it was solely out of desire. The lure of running in the Bahamas was too great to pass up. To pass up a chance to run in a tank top and shorts while my neighbors dug themselves out of naturally made igloos would be a travesty. It’s not every day one gets to run on the deck of a cruise ship, watching the sun rise over the Atlantic and feeling the cool mist of the ocean brush against one’s shoulders.
For the first time in a long time, I backed off my intensity and allowed my focus to get a little fuzzy.
The power of recovery is grossly underestimated. I race hard 5-6 months out of the year. For 3 months prior, I spend much of my run time focused on, well, time. Tempo runs. Speed workouts. Long runs. The body and brain can only take so much.
Taking the last 3 months to restore my body has also restored my soul.
Someone asked me how long I think I can keep this “running thing” up for. I can honestly say that if I continue to practice my annual recovery phase, I can run and race forever. It’s good to push the body. It’s good to challenge myself physically. But recovery can also make me stronger.
Physically, I’m allowing my muscles to repair from all the pounding I’ve inflicted over the past months. More than that, mentally and emotionally I’m allowing myself a break from the stress of racing. I’m doing what I want, rather than what I’m supposed to do.
This coming weekend marks the beginning of my training for the 2014 Boston Marathon. Unlike other years, I’m not dreading it. I’m going to have to a little more base building than in year’s past since I took more time off, but mentally I’m ready to get back in the game.