This past week, for the first time in a year, I took some extended time off from running — six full days to be exact. I figured the best time to take such a break would be after a pretty hard effort, so after 50 radical miles on the Ice Age Trail, I let myself sleep in. Every day. I came home after work, and instead of grabbing my trainers, I grabbed the slippers.
I vegged out, basically.
I needed that.
With my body pretty well recovered by Wednesday, I started to get anxious. The fantastic weather we had all week didn’t help either. By Friday, I was dying to run, but I waited. I purposely waited.
Part of the reasoning for the week off was physical. Over the last 6 months I’ve battled one nagging injury after another — nothing serious enough to keep me from running, but enough to cause me discomfort at times. The only way to let all those things heal completely is to kick back.
The other reason behind it was that, for me, by the time I get to the end of a long training cycle, I begin to get burned out. When I’m hitting the snooze button too often, half-assing my strides and cutting my routes short, then I know I need some rest.
One of things I did with all my free time this week was sit at the top of Palmisano Park. With the park’s elevated views of the Chicago skyline, I find it a peaceful place to just sit and watch as life unravels in front of me. It’s a good spot for meditation, for flying a kite, people watching.
And the one thing I noticed over and over again while sitting up there is just how often children run. They run. A lot.
They’re playing! Kids play! When kids play, they run!
They don’t walk from point A to point B. They run! They don’t saunter down the hill. They run!
They aren’t worried about their form or their shoes or winning their age division. They just… do it. It’s such a natural movement this running. At its base, it is play. I realized the craving I began to harbor during my week of rest was this insatiable desire to GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY.
Only my playground is winding, forested singletrack. Or the Lake Shore path. Or anywhere I can run free and tune out the noise of everyday city life.
By the time I was able to get my first run in on Saturday, I could hardly contain myself. I was back doing what I love. Playing, without reservations.
The only thing left is to make sure I say “Weeeee!” as much as possible.