What I’ve been thinking about this week is pauses. Those moments where you allow yourself to stop moving forward for a minute. Or maybe two.
I think it’s a good idea to build in pauses either at the end of a significant chunk of focused work, and even often in the middle. Pauses are not times where you move backwards. In fact, it’s the opposite. Pauses allow you to fully absorb what’s come before so that you have room to take on more.
Pauses are crucial parts of all growth. The rotation pattern for the most productive fields are sewing, farming, harvesting, and fallowing. The fallow season is key for maintaining high quality yields. When a field is left fallow, it restores its natural fertility which would be stripped to nothing if it were continually used to produce.
This is absolutely true in terms of running. Most plans and coaches plan a “recovery week” in every three or four weeks during a build phase. This trend is borne out by many real life experiments with athletes where it has been shown that an unrelenting progressive workload is both unsustainable and destructive. So if you want success, you plan in pauses.
The same goes with bigger pauses after macro-cycles. If you’ve been training for something for a long time, whether you hit your goal or not, your brain and body need a little pause to regroup and catch-up at the end.
I am thinking about how many of us have used running to help us to navigate a difficult winter. For almost all of us, running has been our main social outlet, has represented our sense of control when so much else has been out of our control, has given us space to tap into our own thoughts and emotions, and has been a very necessary physical outlet. If, like me, you are grateful for all running has given you this past year, maybe say a little word of thanks, and take a small pause so that you can reflect and absorb before launching yourself forward again.
What this pause looks like might be different for different people. You might need a little break from running altogether. You might need to run “for fun” for a while, and not track mileage or time workouts. You might keep your favourite types of runs in there, but replace some others with other types of activities, like cycling or paddling, to take the pressure off running as your sole outlet and ambition.
But remember that a good pause is a sign of nurturing and respect for the thing you love. You are not going backwards or losing fitness – you are absorbing and regenerating. And I’m no expert, but I bet the same holds true for other things in our lives. It’s not a sign of weakness if you need to take a pause from the news, certain tasks and activities, or even certain relationships. It means you care enough to want to come back with more energy. So take and embrace pauses in your life where you need them – they will serve you well!
Onto workouts for this week if you aren’t pausing:
- Hills! I think we’re due! I like keeping a mix in these to keep them from getting too tedious – something like 2 longs and a short or long/short repeats. Whatever works for you, but try not to make to too “grindy” right now.
- If something is hurting and you don’t want hills, go with the strides workout. A Good warm-up, drills, then 4-8 cruisy strides. So good for you.
- Tempo option: 20-8-4 min tempo w 3 min rec