Okay, so my break from running ended up being a little shorter than anticipated, but I'm comfortable saying that with 13 days of no running and an early morning three miles under my belt today, I'm back to it.
I didn't spend the two weeks off doing anything really important. I avoided Nike+ and DailyMile and didn't read much in the way of running blogs. I turned off my usual alarm and slept until 6:17 every day. This week, I was feeling antsy, so I did some of my hip exercises (the ones I promised photos of...they're coming soon). I saw that Pro Compression had a 40% offer going on, and I ordered a pair of compression calf sleeves and a pair of socks.
We went out for dinner for my birthday last night, and K mentioned that a running group she's met up with a few times was doing a 3-miler this morning. (They usually do long runs, but we're all signed up for a 5k this evening so they wanted to keep it easy. On a bit of a tangent here, the 5k is sure to be really cool. It's called the Edison Festival of Light, and it's run at night - obviously. Afterward, there's a huge parade. It's a giant race with lots of spectators...should be fun!)
So anyway, we did the three miles this morning and I felt really good. Well, my legs felt good. They like time off. But my breathing was really erratic. It could be that I kept a bit of a faster pace for some of the run in the beginning because the other runners were fast/not just coming off a break. Or, it could be that I'm not totally over whatever cold I had last week. But probably the trouble breathing had more to do with resting than anything else. I plan to take the rest of the day easy, and run the race this evening for the atmosphere and fun.
I did a little soul-searching during the time off, and it really helped my mood today. It felt great to be out there in cold, bright, sunshiney morning. It felt great to feel my body getting back into the motion. The biggest thing I realized was that the idea of all these half marathons was stressing me out. I wanted to run the Hooters Half in March, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn't want to run it for any other reason than to add to my bibs and medals. How silly! If the run isn't about the experience, but just the end result, then where's the enjoyment?
So I've decided to run my shorter races - mostly 5ks and one 10k planned out so far - and not worry about distances at the moment. I'm going to spend the summer doing speedwork and building strength, and I'm going to run the full (or half) in November as planned. I think two half marathons a year is an accomplishment, and I don't need to run a half every month to feel like running is part of my lifestyle. I can still be consistent and meet my goals, but in a way that's more mentally and physically efficient. I still plan to build up distance eventually, but if today's first run back reminded me of anything, it's that there's merit in just getting out there.
No matter how slow you go, how long the run takes you, or how far you get, putting feet to pavement and loving it is what it's all about.