The best runners in the world run a lot. But when you run a lot, you also have to take rest very seriously. It can be hard to reframe downtime as training (especially for those who really like exercising), but it turns out that that’s exactly what it is. When you take time away from the sport, you might actually come back better equipped to handle its rigours. At least, that’s Des Linden‘s theory.
🚨Breaking: Went a full month without running a step. Heading out for my welcome back jog. Thoughts and prayers appreciated but not expected.
— des_linden (@des_linden) June 25, 2020
Linden is known for her can-do attitude and bluntness about the difficulty of running. Her initial plan for the spring and summer of 2020 was to attempt to double the Boston Marathon and the Olympics, but COVID-19 forced her to put her running goals on hold. Instead of grinding out months of summer training, she took a step back and spent a month without running at all. She came back to running on June 25 and said her first run back felt like the end of Boston – gruelling.
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I normally would have taken 2 weeks off right then 👆, but with big races and an important track season just a few weeks away, decided to make a quick turnaround and get right back at it. I then could have pressed pause when the world shut down and all races were cancelled, but running was one of the few things that offered a sense of normalcy and purpose, so I clung to it. And now, with hope for a fall and winter season🤞, I’m finally taking that downtime I know is necessary but feels strange to justify in the middle of a non-season. Reminding myself: My best seasons have always started with a true reset. 🌱 (Photo cred: @kelynsoong, Expert nudge to rest cred: @ecaballes84) • • • #marathon #olympictrials #recovery #recharge #reset #rejuvenation #runningworld #runtheworld
Linden isn’t the only runner who’s taking a long break. Becky Wade is an American marathoner who ran her PB of 2:33:03 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2019. Like Linden, Wade is in the midst of a running hiatus – not because she’s hurt, just because she needs one. She wrote on Instagram, “I’m finally taking the downtime that I know is necessary but feels strange to justify in the middle of a non-season. I’m reminding myself: my best seasons have always started with a true reset.”
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What an awesome Canada Day! 🇨🇦 Despite the wind & rain I loved every second of racing the virtual Canadian 10k Champs out in Abbotsford surrounded by my amazing support team- @jimhinze lead cyclist, @baggooa bike pace maker, my Dad biking behind, @lynnkanuka biking & coaching, @golikemary bike support & pictures! And my mom cheering from the truck! 😂 Ran 32:41- which I’m stoked about- and was fast enough for the virtual title! Yippee! Thank you @ottawamarathon @athleticscanada @dylanwykes for giving us the opportunity to race again! It really did feel like a real race! And it felt SO GOOD to be racing on the roads again! #myhappyplace #virtualcanadian10kchamps #runottawa #canadaday #virtualrace #10kchamps #canadianrunning #thesweatlife #nuunlife
You don’t need to be broken to take a break
A long, planned break is part of any good training program. Typically, this break is taken after the competitive season (or your goal race, if you’re a marathoner) is over. Without any conventional racing this spring, summer and, probably, fall, runners can’t forget about their break. Natasha Wodak has been a time-trial queen since the pandemic began, trying her hand at 5K and 10K races close to home.
Wodak says she takes one day a week completely off and has multiple scheduled breaks throughout the year. “As an older athlete, you need to respect the rest more. Last year was really busy for me, and by the time I reached the end of my season I didn’t want to run at all. I needed my two-week break of no running that I took after [the Doha world championships].”
In 2019, Wodak ran in the Pan Am Games, two world championships, a half-marathon and an impressive 10,000m. That’s a lot to accomplish in one season. “With so much on the calendar we had to figure out how we were going to rest. After each key race we took three days of no running. Sometimes that was nothing, and other times it was a pool run or elliptical – and always a full week without workouts. We didn’t want to stress the body until I was ready. It’s hard when you’re really fit to take time off, but you need to.”
This summer, Wodak is still planning to take time off in August (when the Olympics should’ve been wrapping up). “After Houston [where she ran a 1:09 half], I took a mini break and the scheduled break was supposed to be after the Olympics. I’m still taking that planned break. It’s important for your body and your mind to have a good reset.”