It’s a new year, and I’m doing something I never thought I’d do: take a break from LR. Although I don’t have any long distance (over 6 mile) races planned yet for this year, I thought that I would continue with my weekend long runs to maintain endurance. Instead, I am taking a break.

I thought that one week off following my latest half marathon in October would be enough. My body thought otherwise. Shortly after I started to run again, I felt pain in my left heel. I often felt fine while I was running, only to be limping around the office and icing my feet under my desk. I knew something was wrong, yet I was more upset about the fact that I had to stop running than the actual injury itself. I took another week off, substituting my runs with other low-impact workouts, hoping the pain would subside. Ultimately, it did; however, my desire to continue long runs with no race ahead waned. I’ve always had trouble running long distances on the treadmill, and the well below freezing temperatures outdoors made it close to impossible to run outside.

I’ll admit it, I’ve been spoiled by two mild New York winters. It’s easy to run outside in Feburary when it’s 50 degrees and sunny. Now that it’s 20 degrees and snowing, my weather app has become my arch nemesis and I’ve completely revamped my workout schedule.

I’m focusing on all the things I didn’t have time to focus on during my half marathon training. I’ve incorporated more tempo runs to practice running negative splits. Despite running more than 5 races last year, I never once ran negative splits. I do one sprint/hills workout each week and run one super fast mile to improve my speed. Even though my over 6 mile runs may not be happening anymore, I am enjoying my new workout routine.

I no longer stress about the number of miles I run each week. The diversity in my workouts prevents me from overtraining. I am more focused on running quality, challenging miles. When the time comes for me to train for a race, I know I’ll have to throw some long runs back in. For me, a race gives my long runs purpose, something that I learned I need. In the meantime, I’m having fun getting faster and stronger.

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