Five weeks ago I made a hard decision; I decided to take some time off from running. My right foot had started bothering me towards the end of May, but the weather was finally breaking and I had big race plans for the fall which meant lots of miles this summer. So I kept running.
My foot hurt, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from running. It wasn’t debilitating. It was just a nuisance. Through June and the first half of July, I put together one of the best training seasons I have ever had. My body felt strong and efficient. Ten miles was a normal day. One day I ran a solo 26.5 at Pineland, including a marathon PR, and worked a full day afterwards. I had my first ever 100 mile week. My foot wasn’t getting better, but I knew I wasn’t really giving it a chance, so I wasn’t too worried.
Distance runners are notorious for not taking time off when they should.
It was slow, but my foot started to feel worse. The pain that used to go away after a couple miles started to stick around. I would finish runs grimacing because of the pain in my foot and then I’d work on my feet all day. Mornings were bad, but what I used to be able to massage out became a sharp pain that would only hurt more trying to roll out. I couldn’t go on a hike with my wife or to the beach because walking on the sand made my foot hurt more.
Looking back now, I can’t believe it took getting to a point of not being able to walk to make me decide to stop running. But enough was enough, and I finally made the decision to stop.
It was tough to stop so completely after putting in so much time and so many miles in the first half of the summer. But five weeks later, the world hasn’t ended like I thought it might.
Because I wasn’t training, I was able to go camping in the White Mountains with my wife and her parents and brother and just enjoy being away. My parents and younger brother came to visit and we went to Acadia and I wasn’t constantly thinking about when I was going to run and how far I had to go. I was able to plan a last-minute backpacking trip to the Adirondack Mountains with my wife. This past weekend we spent over 20 hours in the car driving to Pennsylvania for a wedding and back, and yesterday we went climbing with my brother-in-law before he leaves for his freshman year at college.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there is so much more to life than running. I love running and the feeling of freedom I have on a 14-mile run, and I cannot wait to start training again. But unless you are an elite and are competing for your next paycheck through running, running shouldn’t be the end all in your life. At some point it will let you down. But it can be a means to a happier and healthier lifestyle. And that is worth pursuing.
Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I’m back out there. But while I’m not running, I’m going to soak in and appreciate some of the other good things in life. And I hope I remember to do so even when I start training again. And I hope you do too.
Happy Running! And Happy Life!