My Experience With A Break From Running + How I’m Changing My Routine Going Forward

 

It still feels a little weird to think that I didn’t run for two weeks. While it wasn’t a planned break from running, it became a welcomed one for sure. I needed some time off and learned SO MUCH in the process.

I think it’s important that I share every detail about my break from running for a few reasons.

This is technically a running blog,  so anything related to running needs to be discussed! Also, runners are stubborn people and rarely take a break/cut mileage unless they are forced to do so by injury or illness. I think it’s important to understand and realize that breaks are sometimes needed and necessary. We should also come to realize that our workout routines can and should change over time. Nothing stays the same, regardless of our creature of habit natures.

So let’s start from the top of this whole random break from running situation. You already know I dropped a shampoo bottle on my foot over New Year’s weekend which ultimately kept me from running for two weeks.

I swear it was a sign from the universe.

break from running

It was a very kind of way of jolting me into making a change. Rather than creating an actual injury, the impact on my foot left an ugly bruise which was enough to have me take a break from running for precautionary reasons.

This was truly a best case scenario. I got some time off during the most frigid weather pattern of the year without being completely sidelined. I was able to walk like a normal person (no boot or tape or bandage) and was allowed to keep up my Pure Barre workout routine.

Between me and you, I welcomed the excuse for a forced break from running.

How dumb does that sound? Why didn’t I take a break from running on my own?

Because I’m a runner and runners are creatures of habit. And stubborn.

I’ve been SO LUCKY to never experience a running injury but that’s just not enough of a reason to not take a break or make a real change that lowers mileage, rather than increases it. How often do you see a runner decide to take a break out of nowhere? I mean, not just a break after a race and not a break due to injury, burn out or overtraining.

I mean a break from running before all of that happens. We very rarely see it!

Laura talks to me about taking breaks during my “OFF SEASON” and my sarcastic but honest response always is, “do I even have an ON SEASON?” I’m not a big racer, I’m just some girl who likes to run every day. I don’t plan races and training plans so that kind of leaves me wondering if I’m just one long season, rather than someone with on and off seasons.

Since starting this blog, I slowly increased my weekly mileage to 40+ mile weeks. I think it’s been obvious over the last year though that my interest in keeping that up is dwindling. Without injury or meeting the signs of overtraining, I started to give up my weekly 13 mile long runs and even cut down my weekly mileage in general.

But a real break from running? A real change to routine? Never.

Until now.

What I noticed, felt and experienced during this break from running was enough to make me want to seriously change things up.

Let’s discuss what I noticed so you see where I am coming from.

My Appetite Is Human. As I’ve mentioned, I have enjoyed my appetite returning to human levels. It has left such a mark on me in such a short amount of time that I can’t let it go. It’s SO NICE to feel so in tune with my hunger cues, to not feel ravenous, to eat a bit and feel satisfied, to not think about my next meal hours before someone else.

I’m Drinking More Water. Yeah, I don’t really understand this one exactly either but I found myself hydrating MORE while running LESS.

I Have More Energy. So this sort of makes sense, right? Or no, because they always tell us that exercise gives us energy?

Like I always felt as though running in the morning got me going for the day, and energized me. However, at some point, running all the time does drain a person, even if it initially gives you that energetic endorphin jolt.

Overall I’ve felt so energized from Pure Barre (or even 30 minutes on the elliptical) and that energy continues into the afternoon, keeping me focused for work later than usual.  I’ve also noticed myself doing more things around the house, zipping around to clean up and put things away like I used to years ago, rather than sitting on the couch tired and done with the day.

I’m More Focused During Pure Barre. Without running, I’ve found my focus completely dialed in to my Pure Barre workouts. I’m also selecting the longer routines rather than always going for the shorter workouts because I haven’t been trying to balance Pure Barre time with running time. I’m not rushing the exercises, mentally or physically, and it’s been amazing.

pure barre

I Like Not Sweating. So this may sound funny but it’s true. I’ve come to appreciate the quality workouts I get through Pure Barre WITHOUT working up a sweat.

My Clothing Is Looser. This one is HUGE. I think most runners are afraid that a real break from running or a reduction in workout minutes will result in clothing getting tighter, not looser! I felt myself “deflate” (best word I can think of) fairly immediately and had to ask Laura what was going on. Here’s how she explained it:

“When you run for an hour or more, your body uses stored carbohydrates (glycogen) for energy. In order to adapt, your body responds to the use of glycogen during exercise by trying to store more glycogen. The cells in muscles rely on water to aid in glycogen storage. When you stop running for a while, you will see a pause in this process – your glycogen stores are not in need of replenishing. If you eat less while not running, that combined with the halt in adaptation/storage will result in minor loss of water weight.”

My clothing continues to feel loose. I do not think it’s something anyone else can see, but I can feel it and it feels wonderful. I’m not bloated and my clothing fits me exactly the way I want it to fit. It’s a feeling of complete comfort inside and out, where everything just feels right. This is a feeling I’m looking to continue.

Without getting into a big weight discussion (since I don’t even know what I weigh), I can tell you that running MORE never made me smaller. < – Something to think about and probably a post for another day.  

Anyway.

As you can probably tell, just because I am now cleared to run and have run twice (3 miles both times), I am not looking to get back to where I was in my routine.

I want to run less.

I’m working on what that means exactly and as we know, finding balance is always a work in progress.

Right now I’m sort of envisioning just a couple of days of cardio a week, maybe 30 to 45 minutes at a time with Pure Barre workouts on the alternate days.

Let’s see what happens though. It may be that each week totally varies. It may be that spring comes and I want to run more often. Or maybe I just stick with  3 to 5 mile runs with a random 10 mile run thrown in at some point, I don’t know.

All I know is that I see my routine very differently now while appreciating the fact that less can really be more.

Oh, and I’m so grateful for dropping the dumb shampoo bottle on my foot!

Here's what I experienced during my break from running - on the blog! #running #run #purebarre #fitness Click To Tweet

How often do you switch up your workout routine? Do you think you may need to run less but are afraid to take a break?

Do you have “On” and “Off seasons?

Are you caught in a pattern of constantly trying to run more without seeing results from doing that?

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Its great that you learned so much during your time off and that you have figured out a plan! I’ve ended up not working out while Im away in Florida for logistical reasons (no time, colder weather than I packed for, gym isn’t close…) but we are doing so much walking that its really fine. I think I will just be more excited to run when I get back!
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Tips for Choosing a Sports Medicine ProviderMy Profile

  2. Lauren says

    Love this–and what a great realization after a silly “dropped bottle of shampoo.”
    i won’t be able to work out for a couple weeks starting Thursday….and was freaking out because I love it–but especially after reading this, I know it will be ok! So thank you.

  3. says

    I found a lot of the same things happened to me when I cut back on exercise, and I love that you’re sharing this because I feel like a lot of people are afraid to take a break, thinking the worst will happen, when it’s usually completely the opposite. I try to stay lightly active on a daily basis, but probably only get an actual workout in every other day and I’ve found it’s the perfect balance for me.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…one bowl chocolate chip banana oat muffinsMy Profile

  4. says

    I wonder if also you feel less bloated because you are drinking more water. I definitely think each person has a balance point in running – enough to stay healthy and fit, but not so much that you are tired and ravenous. Especially when not training for a race, it makes sense to stick to the mileage that feels best! I’m sort of doing that right now and just running what feels good in terms of mileage.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Mile Markers: Back to NormalMy Profile

    • says

      I thought of that too about the water! I think it’s playing a role at this point but I did feel that initial deflate before I noticed myself drinking more. Who knows! I’m definitely trying to figure out what feels best mileage wise, I think it will be a process and take some time but I will naturally fall into it I think.

  5. says

    Ha! I could have written this post! I had to take a forced break from running about 2 weeks out from my marathon, and I was on like day 256 of a run streak, but my ankle was swelling like crazy and the only way for me to run the marathon was to take a break. And then after the marathon, I took almost a full month off and it felt sooo good! I’m not currently training for anything, so I am definitely in an “off” season for running, which means strength training 3-4 x’s a week, and running with a group 2-3 x’s per week. Most of their runs consist of 6-8 miles, so I’m still there, but if it’s just me, I shoot for about 3-5 miles, but I like the company 😉
    Marissa @ Run Riss Run recently posted…My week in eating & working outMy Profile

    • says

      How funny! It’s just another sign that these experiences are common and happen to a lot of us runners! I like that your strength days are more than the run days – I sort of feel myself leaning that way which is something I never thought would happen!

  6. says

    I love this so much, because it illustrates again that less is more and that you don’t have to do a TON to make exercise helpful for your body. <3 I really love your honest assessments of all things running, weight, body image related Meredith. They always make me want to try similar things; I think i'm going to try to take a week off of running this week.
    Emily recently posted…Comment on Why I’m Thankful I Was Sheltered (Growing Up in A Greenhouse) by Ashley B.My Profile

  7. says

    I LOVE that you turned the shampoo bottle into such a positive learning experience! I think a lot of time, it takes something like this that’s entirely out of our control to show us we need to make a change. I, myself, have been steering slowly away from my super intense workout weeks and doing gentler workouts, and all the changes you’ve mentioned SO resonate with me. I would LOVE to see that post about how running didn’t make you smaller bc I think that’s a huge misconception that kept me jailed to a crazy routine for far too long.
    Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday {Getting Back in the Groove}My Profile

  8. says

    Hi 🙂
    I have finally decided to write to you after reading this article! I am currently studying the PhD Physical Therapy program as well as write on my own blog (although just started hehe). I also have a bachelors degree in Kinesiology and I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
    Your writing is really inspiring! Just checked in to tell you. Finally stepped out of the shadows of just being an anonymous reader!

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