This week I'm going on vacation with my two daughters. It seems that I experience some consistent themes in my life right before I take my annual breather. Stress levels are highest for me right before I take extended time off from work. I typically find myself doing two weeks worth of work in one week. This year that task was made doubly difficult by the fact that the week prior to vacation was a four day work week due to the 4th of July Holiday.
Another thing I experience just prior to breaking from my regular routine is a feeling that I'm not doing anything exceptionally well but doing most things half buttocks. This is due mainly to the fact that I'm burnt out. I'm exhausted. I've worked too hard for too long and I'm worn out. For this reason, it is suggested that we all take time off to recharge our Duracells.
Everyone vacations a bit differently. One friend of mine hasn't taken an extended period of time off from work with their family for a few years. Instead, they take off a day here or a long weekend there and sneak in a round of golf in between. Others, I know, take a week off every quarter. Still, one other co-worker that I know goes to France for the weekend like New Yorkers head to the Hamptons.
So, what's the point? Marathon training programs are like life itself. We all need to take a break. We need to rest. How we do it is up to us and our own individual training program.
This week in between dips in the pool and an occasional off premise excursion, I'll check my blackberry, power up my work laptop and check my work voicemail. You see, I never really completely sever my ties with the office. I stay in touch... but just a bit less and slightly differently. Similarly, I never really stop training. I just adjust my schedule.
I find that my training program and work life seem to run on parallel tracks. Last weekend I ran the longest distance I've run since the Rock and Roll Half Marathon last August. It was a mere 11 miles early Sunday morning in mild temperatures. The following day my training program called for a day of rest. Instead, I decided that I felt fine and would add 4 miles to my Nikes. The first mile I could here my hamstrings stretching and screaming. The next three miles were filled with pain and completed at a much slower pace than normal for me. Hmmmm. My muscles were burnt out, exhausted worn down. Once again I found myself not running particularly well and, in fact, that run truly was half buttocks.
It took the entire week for me to recover from that blatant disregard for my training program. Rest times are figured into our schedules for a reason. We need time to recover and rest our muscles. Otherwise, we are doing ourselves more harm than good. It's like taking time from work. If we don't do it, we pay for it by not being able to perform at our highest level.
Take time off as prescribed by whatever training program that you decide to follow. Your thighs, quads and hamstrings will thank you in the end.