5 Things My Running Sabbatical Taught Me

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It’s not the first time I’ve missed runs due to sickness, although it’s been years since I had to miss this much activity. I am lucky, though, I know — I didn’t have to spend months without running. Even a short time without running can teach you important lessons, though.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share five things I learned by not running.

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Those first few runs might feel good
I started out slow (I thought, anyway) and the first couple of runs back felt good. Sure, they were slower than the paces I was running before I got sick, but it wasn’t too bad. I was happy with that.

Of course, there’s also the possibility they might not feel so good. That’s because either:

  1. You started back before you were really healthy
  2. You went to far/fast in your first runs back
  3. You had a prolonged sabbatical and you’ve lost fitness

Your body might surprise you
Not necessarily in a good way. Yeah, I was happy about running and feeling as though I hadn’t lost too much fitness — right up until both knees started to ache.

Knees have always been my achilles’ heel, so to speak. Due to IT issues — the outside of my left knee and sometimes the IT Band itself and sometimes the hip can get tight/painful. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but it can still happen, and I know some of the triggers and work on prehab exercises a lot.

This was different. Runner’s Knee — pain on the inside of the knees and the kneecap itself. Both knees. It resolved relatively quickly on my left knee — yeah, the one I always have problems with — but was more persistent on the right knee.

It was a mere 2 weeks that I didn’t run at all, but in general, I wasn’t very active for almost an entire month. So yeah, my body surprised me. Definitely not in a good way.

Aim to start back easy . . . 
. . . and whatever that means for you, once you’ve decided on time/length — probably shorten it. Maybe even halve it

I really thought I started back conservatively. I’ve never really had problems coming back to running after an illness — other than in pace or energy. Pace wasn’t so bad; energy wasn’t so bad.

I’d been working on lengthening my run intervals to increase my endurance at the beginning of the year. It never even occurred to me that I should shorten those puppies when I started running again. I don’t know if it would have made any difference, but I’m here to tell you — if you miss a week or two or more of running, take it far easier than you think you need to when you start up again.

What you eat is more important than activity . . .
. . .  when it comes to your weight. I knew this one already. If you’re careful, even if you can’t be active at all, you can maintain your weight. I did. I’m not saying it was easy, and it certainly would be much harder if I couldn’t be active for a really long time — I hope I never have to find out about that! But there’s truth to the saying:

Abs are made in the kitchen.

If you’re not careful and you give in to the “woe is me, I might as well eat to comfort myself” mentality — yeah, you are probably going to deal with some weight gain. And that will make getting back into activity even harder.

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The smile says it all

You’re lucky to run
There are plenty of people on any given day that would give their eyeteeth to be able to run. Heck, to walk. Or walk unassisted. To not be in pain. To feel better about themselves. To be able to do the simple things in life.

It’s always a good day when you can do something you love, something that makes you feel better, no matter how how long or short a time you can do it.

In other words, count your blessings!

What surprised you after you started to run after some time not running?

What advice would you give to a runner who can’t run?

What is the very best thing about running to you?

16 thoughts on “5 Things My Running Sabbatical Taught Me

  1. It’s so great that your return is going somewhat smooth, besides the knee pain of course. When I take time off from running I to am surprised at how what you eat has so much to do with weight. You’d think you would gain a ton without those running calories but by watching your intake more closely its really not the case.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Luckily, after my surgery it wasn’t long until I was cleared to walk, not run. I think if I had not been cleared to walk, returning to running would’ve be more of a struggle. I also think the base I had built with all the Chicago training was a big help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll bet that base helped! I was walking before I was running, but that was walking the dogs. Barely qualifies as walking, really.

      I had a pretty good base, actually, so I’m still a bit puzzled, but it is what it is. At least one knee is happy now!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Whenever I return from injury or a runbattical, I am reminded just how hard running is. It really beats up the body. As I get into a training plan and adapt, I tend to forget this. Sending healthy, happy knee vibes your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine really was rather short, so this was just a surprise.

      Funny, though, as I get into the plan, toward the end, anyway, I get darn tired. And then there are those phantom aches. And that’s just for a half!

      Thank you for the happy knee vibes. Back at ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think part of my struggles with running last week is I was still coming back from being sick. I got the miles in, but it wasn’t pretty. Runners can be hard on ourselves, and I need to keep reminding myself it’s OK to not be 100%.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember a couple of years ago I was really sick, and while I didn’t have any pains when I started running again, it was definitely not pretty.

      This time would have been just fine — if it weren’t for the knees! Always something.

      Like

  5. Running after time off can be tricky. Sometimes you feel so refreshed and ready to tackle the miles with ease, and sometimes it feels so stinkin hard that you can’t believe you ever did this (and two miles feels tough). I’ve felt both these feelings before!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always appreciated the gift of running, since I had never really had any other athletic sport to do with any semblance of ability. Having it taken away from me so suddenly, totally made my appreciation multiply (numerous times over). Every run is a blessing, no matter how long, short, cold, humid, or painful….and every run has something good to come from it (though it may take some time or reflection to find it).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What surprised you after you started to run after some time not running? What was easy got tough!

    What is the very best thing about running to you? How strong I have become both physically & mentally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since I wasn’t able to exercise at all for quite some time, I definitely wasn’t able to keep up that cardio fitness.

      Now as long a the knee cooperates — at least it’s getting better — for short runs, anyway.

      Like

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