Okay, so its possible I my have fudged that quote just a little, but its true nevertheless. And in this week's blog, "setting running free" is my euphemism for CROSS-TRAINING.
I've never been real good with goodbyes. In fact, I have a distinct memory of childhood me stowing away in the trunk of the family van while my parents packed up to leave my grandparents' house. "If they can't find me, they won't leave. We'll get to stay with grammy and gramps forever!" Upon being discovered, my devastation had such a deep, visceral impact that I'm convinced, (at least on some Freudian level) that it still remains with me to this day when I say sayonara.
An inabilty to recognize when its time to part ways (at least temporarily) in regards to running has also left me scarred. Rather than emotional wounds, the consequences first manifest physically as various cases of "THE ITIS": IT band tendonitis, posterior tibialis tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, you get the idea. At the same time, ITIS' evil twin BURN-OUT has a tendency to rear its nasty little head and help fuel the negative chain of events that all too often lead to an unpremeditated halt in training.
Over time, I've come to appreciate the importance of easy weeks and cross training to avoid such perils. This principle is particularly important to me now as 2011 is shaping up to be my busiest racing year to date (Check mark beside the WINTER SERIES LONG COURSE and CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK 50K with the TRIPLE CROWN SERIES, the SAN JUAN SOLSTICE 50 MILER, and potentially another yet to be named ultra on the calendar). Last weekend, much of my running cohort (Team CRUD) was doing the COLLEGIATE PEAKS 50 MILER so my long runs would likely be solo outings. What's more, I was feeling the urge to venture up to Denver to reconnect with some visiting friends from my NC high school alma mater. Thus, somewhere in the midst of my historically fluid training regimen, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to focus on cross training, rest, and recovery.
I'm pretty liberal with my definition of cross-training. I count the usual suspects: cycling, swimming, hiking, yoga, strength training. I also credit (and have proof on my calendar) perhaps the more obscure pasttimes: wheelchair basketball and dogsledding (shout-out to the THERAPEUTIC RECREATION PROGRAM), rock climbing, and backcountry snowshoe adventures. During the course of last weekend, I completed a relatively brief Saturday run supplemented by swimming, rock climbing, and my favorite strengthening workout called the Endorphin Mainline. I also spent a great weekend with friends, slept in until 9:00 (can't remember when I did that last), and read (Born to Run) for a couple hours in the shade at the dog park. While this anemic period of running wasn't without the occasional pang of anxiety, I successfully quelled my itch to log hours and hours on the trails. And, come Tuesday, I was reminded of the best thing about "setting running free"- that, once you're ready, running holds no grudges and is always there to greet you again with open arms. A weekend of cross training has been my metaphorical rebirth. My battery is recharged. I'm focused. And I'm more motivated than ever to commit to the upcoming month of training in preparation for back to back race weekends in June.