This week (less tan 30 days before my most important race ever where I’ll attempt a Boston marathon qualification time in the Vancouver marathon) I was reminded of the limits of the human body and importance of keeping your mind fresh when training or performing any kind of long-term endurance activity. Shortly after running my best half marathon , doing my best 20 mile long run with a fast finish and having my best track workout (all in a period of 2 weeks), I bonked at mile 19 of a 22 mile easy pace long run and 2 days after wasn’t able to complete a 6 mile tempo run according to my training plan.
I’ve been training at the edge of my abilities and pushing the envelope for a while now. Since January, I’ve flawlessly hit or exceeded all the goals in my training plan, been obsessed about good nutrition and took my recovery routine to a whole different level. I had been feeling stronger than ever. Invincible. But I forgot one thing: giving the mind a break from this repetitive cycle of performance improvement and the result was a “crash”.
As I reflected on what happened and what could I do to get back to my good training performances I tried something I realized my body and mind had been asking for a long time: give them a break from the intense obsessive training for this race. Even if only for a night. I did something as simple as calling the babysitter in, going out for dinner with my wife, not paying attention to the calories I ate and ordering a good bottle of wine. No running talk (ok, just a little), no thinking about the intake of grams of carbs, the weight to strength ratio and hydration levels for the next morning run. No thinking about anything: just enjoying a new restaurant, with great company, tasting the wine and living in the moment.
After that dinner my running came back to me. Stronger than ever and the feeling of confidence that I’ll get my boston qualification time (that was a little shaken during this episode) came back with full strength.
It’s important to hit the reset button with some frequency in your life. Whether you are training for a marathon, passionately working on a project, raising your family, with work up to your head in your day to day job moving up the corporate ladder, or in many cases all of the above.
Hit reset frequently before you burn out. Take time to enjoy your wins. Pace your progress. Go out for dinner with friends. Do a weekend getaway. Buy a plane ticket and visit some place new. Always keep focus on your goals but plan for much needed breaks – your body and mind will appreciate it and your performance will improve.