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Without really intending to, I took about a month off from running between Christmas and the last week of January. When the weather goes south (so to speak) in Vermont, my running typically tapers off anyway, replaced by indoor workouts and skiing. I usually try to keep up about one run a week… because, let’s be honest, there just isn’t anything as effective as running to maintain fitness, endurance, and weight.

As December progressed, I started to notice a tightness in my ankle. It wasn’t really a dull, nagging ache. It was either nonexistent or stop-me-in-my-tracks painful. I must have a piece of loose cartilage or something, and when it got stuck in the wrong place my ankle would lock up and it was difficult to put weight on it, much less run. It happened one day in the middle of a 4 mile run, at the furthest point from my destination, where H was waiting for me to pick her up from a student council meeting. This was also about a week before a big ski trip and I could have kicked myself (if it wasn’t going to be so painful) for ignoring the little signs and allowing myself to get stuck out on a run that I had to complete.

To make a long story short, I limped through the rest of my run, and decided to take a break until after the ski trip. And then somehow a few more weeks slipped by (constant 0 degree temps just didn’t inspire me!), and suddenly I had taken a solid month off. Taking a break from running now and then is essential for me, and it’s nice when it isn’t injury-induced. It allows my body to heal from the constant pounding, and diminishes the feeling of mental fatigue (i.e. boredom) that can seep in from months of repeating the same old runs.

About a week and a half ago the weather improved enough to get out for a 5 mile run. I’ve lost a bit of speed, and I was super sore after, but it felt great to get back out on the road. Now, the key will be to restart slowly. My half-marathon training doesn’t start for another three weeks, so the next few weeks will be about just logging some miles at an easy pace.

Do you ever take purposeful breaks from running?