I wish I had ruby slippers so I could click my heels 3 times and be back to where I was with my running a week and a half ago. This is one reason why I have a love-hate relationship with vacations. My family and I went away for a week and while we had a wonderful time together, I missed out on a few runs which I feel has set me back. Ideally, I would’ve gone at least once while we were away, but there was no chance – there was too much fun waiting to be had by all. On our drive home yesterday, I told my husband that I needed to get out there as soon as we pulled in the driveway. 7 hours in the car made my body feel like it was going to be permanently stuck in a flexed position, the kids squabbled in the back of the minivan practically the whole way home, the baby hated his car seat and fussed for most of the way, and I was feeling cranky to say the least. He definitely knew I needed it so he was fully supportive.
Once home, I geared up, set a small goal of 2 miles, and headed out the door. The pang of anxiety hit about what this run was going to bring, but I hugged the monster and started the slog. I knew that no matter how many amusement park hills I pushed a stroller up, no matter how many stairs I climbed at the water park to get to the top slides, no matter how far I trudged with a 20 pound diaper bag on my back (filled with as many water bottles as possible – didn’t want to pay $3 for each), I still wasn’t able to hold onto the shape I was in before I left. I grieved for a moment and then I made myself go. A half a mile into it and I knew I looked like a cross between the tin man and the scarecrow trying to do something that resembled a run. Good grief, was I ever tight and disjointed all at the same time. While my brain settled into a groove it desperately needed, not one of my extremities felt like it was attached to my core. I slowed down, I sped up, I did whatever I could to make it through that first mile to warm up and find a rhythm. And make it through I did – my pace was faster than it has been since pre-baby: 9 minutes 45 seconds. Nice, but could I sustain it? Nope. But that’s ok, my next mile and a half was at an 11 minute mile pace (I decided I needed to do some hills because I ate way too much “vacation food” in the past week). For me, that’s not bad at all. A short run is better than no run, right? So for as “off” as I felt, I guess my run didn’t suffer that much…for a slogger.
The take away? We all need to take breaks when we can get them and cut ourselves a little slack. If you’re like me – you’ll throw all exercise to the wind for a week and say “Meh, I’ll deal with it when I get back” only to feel anxious about it when you get back. And I think this attitude is okay to have as long as you get back on track when you return.
For those of you interested in keeping in good shape while away, here are a few articles that have some good advice. I don’t think you’ll ever find me running around the long term parking lot at the airport, but some of you may find that to be a helpful tip. There are others in these articles like stick to the basics, run early in the morning to avoid skipping a workout, and forget the miles – just go!
And for getting back on track after vacation, which is what I need: