How Time Away From Running Helped My Running

After fighting a bout of late season over training fatigue earlier this year, I found myself somewhat disinterested in running. I overcommitted myself to too many races in too short a time and came down with a serious case of FOMO. Both my finish times and overall enjoyment suffered tremendously.  After coming to the realization that I might need to take a break, I took some serious time away from running completely and hit the reset button.

After a failed trail marathon attempt back in June, I went two months more or less without structured running in my life. There were a few runs sprinkled throughout those eight weeks, but they were not part of an official plan. They were more sporadic and occurred when I felt like I wanted to run, not because I felt like I had to run. Then, around August, something began to happen. I started to get that itch to race again. I began looking up races and getting excited about the opportunities they presented. I quickly made a calendar of all the races I wanted to do in 2017. Then I cut the list in half. Then twice more after that.

I didn’t want a repeat of what happened this year to happen in 2017. Sure, I saw some success in 2016 with race finishes. But at what cost towards my end of the year performance?  Over committing in 2017 before the year even started was just setting myself up for failure. I want 2017 to be about quality, not quantity.

My prospective goal race schedule is as follows:

  • Fall Creek Falls 50k – March
  • Chattanooga Mountain Stage Race (3 days, 3 mountains, 60 miles) – June
  • Rock/Creek Stump Jump 50k – October
  • Upchuck 50k – November (If I qualify)
  • Lookout Mountain 50 mile – December (if I don’t qualify for Upchuck)

 There will of course be a few races baked into my training plan that I would like to do in preparation for these goal races, but they will purely be there as training runs. This prospective schedule is vastly different than the “Dopey Challenge + three different trail series + 40 miler + trail marathon + random other races” calendar I had attempted this past year. Most of my races last year I was racing for time. Most of the goal races for 2017 will be more about purely finishing rather than finishing quickly. I feel that this shift of focus will set me up for success and keep me healthy and excited about running all year.

I think it’s important to set goals for the year, but they must be realistic. The burnout I was facing left little desire to do much of anything running related. The time I took off to shift gears and focus my energy elsewhere might just have been one of the better decisions I’ve made. I have a renewed sense of energy that has allowed me to build up a decent base as I approach the official start of my 50k training.

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