I can sum up my feelings towards the running hiatus in 1 word: adjustment. The hiatus has forced me to re-think the way I exercise, eat, and look at my body, and although it hasn’t been all bad, it certainly has been an adjustment.
The hardest part of the hiatus is truly accepting the fact that I’m injured. The hiatus has forced me to really realize that I have a degenerative knee condition and that it’s not going to magically heal itself, no matter how hard I pray! For someone with my personality, it’s difficult to accept that I can’t do something.
The hiatus has been a huge life change. I’ve run 20 – 25 miles every week for the past three years. For the past 8 months, I’ve been in a constant state of training, racing in 11 races back-to-back. I feel like I went from 100 mph to zero. In the last week, I’ve wavered between being in denial, completely upset, utterly furious, and calmly accepting a thousand times.
One really difficult aspect of the hiatus has been my emotions towards food. Before the hiatus began, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted. I ate when I was hungry (which was all the time!), and since I mostly craved healthy foods, it wasn’t an issue. But, I drank beer, I ate chocolate, and I got gigantic cups of Coldstone ice cream with the Husband without a second thought. I easily ate 2,200 – 2,600 calories on some days, and it didn’t matter! I never realized how much I depended on running to help me maintain my weight loss.
I expected my hunger to immediately drop off when the hiatus began. But it didn’t, and that was a real struggle. I was HUNGRY the first few days and I felt like I "shouldn’t be." I did some internet research and talked to other runners who’ve been injured, and all sources agreed that your metabolism takes a while to adjust. So, in addition to feeling sad, mad, and accepting, I occasionally felt really guilty over my hunger levels and food at the beginning of the hiatus. I’ve rarely experienced that since I entered weight maintenance and, to be honest, it’s a really crap way to feel.
But, my hunger has seemed to level off and I’ve gotten use to being more conscious about my snacking or drinking. I feel much more in control of the ‘diet’ aspect of the hiatus than I did when it first started.
And, on a brighter note…. there are LOTS of good things about the hiatus! I’ve managed to remain fairly active on the hiatus (5 workouts in 10 days!). I’m enjoying mixing up my workouts and find myself really looking forward to the day’s new challenge. Also, I’ve been incorporating strength moves like never before! I feel STRONG! And, most importantly, my knees feel a lot better than they would if I was running!
I received a ton of questions from readers over the last week about the hiatus, so here’s my answers:
- General Question: Are you calorie counting?
I’m not truly calorie counting, but I am paying more attention. As I said, because my hunger level did not immediately taper off, I experienced a lot of guilt over feeling hungry when I "shouldn’t be" when the hiatus first started. I have been eyeballing my calorie counts to make sure I am not going ridiculously over my baseline + whatever I had burned through non-running workouts.
Instead of focusing too much on calories, I’ve been trying to make lighter substitutions on my favorite foods. I’ve replaced granola with lower-calorie cereal, and I’m skipping the cheese on my sammies. This way, I don’t feel like I’m "missing out."
- General Question: Have you gained weight since the hiatus began?
NO! Like I said, I’m staying fairly active and trying to be aware of what I’m eating. I’m confident I won’t put on any weight during the hiatus.
- Redheaded Journal asks: Do you feel jealous when you see other people running?
YES! I haven’t felt jealous when talking to my running friends about their races because I love and support them. But I do feel really hostile to strangers on the street who are running! I also feel really jealous of people on the treadmill at the gym. I think it’s natural that I would feel jealous of people who can run. 🙂
- Redheaded Journal also asks: Because of your knee issues do you see yourself having long term knee issues?
Yes. It is my understanding that Chondromalacia is permanent and it is always something I will struggle with to a degree. I know lots of other runners with Chondromalacia, so I think it’s just a matter of running smart. For instance, I will never try to run a marathon, but maybe I can focus on 5K and 10Ks.
- LA Daze asks: How long will your running hiatus last?
Officially, the hiatus is suppose to last from April 12 to May 10. However, the first week of the hiatus, I was in intense pain from the 15.0 Mile Trail race, so I might extend the hiatus a week or two. I want to see maximum benefits, so I’m not going to start running "too soon" after going through all of this!
- LA Daze also asks: Are you afraid of getting out of shape, running-wise?
I’m not "afraid" of it… but I acknowledge that it will happen. Obviously, I will not be able to run 10.0 miles after a month of no running. But, I think my cross-training workouts are going to keep my base pretty strong, and I don’t think my endurance will completely plummet.
- Adi asks: Do you see yourself become just as passionate about another sport/exercise as you have been about running?
No. I don’t. I’m trying to get excited about swimming though! I like the idea of swimming because I really suck at it, so it’s an opportunity for me to challenge myself. Just like running was at first!
- General Question: What are you plans for the end of the hiatus?
After the hiatus is over, I plan to slowly re-introduce running back into my routine. I’ve recognized that I need to stop being in a state of constant "race readiness" because that does not work for my body. I’m going to work my way back up to running three times a week for a total of 11 miles (3.0 miles, 3.0 miles, and a long run of 5.0 miles). I think this base will allow me to stay fit enough to run 5K or 10Ks on a whim. I plan to sign up for a 15K and a Half next Fall, but I’m going to minimize the time I spend actually training for those races.
I am also going to try and improve my swimming ability because I’d like to compete in an AquaBike Duathlon in June (a swim-bike race). I think swimming is a great challenge for me and I want to try to love it! 🙂
- Nate asks: Have you considered using a word other than ‘hiatus’ to describe your break from running? Hiatus is rarely used in conversational English these days.
Hmmm… We can also call it a break, aperture, a breach, a chasm, a discontinuity, a gap, an intermin, an interval, a lapse, or a space. (Thank you, Thesaurus.com!)
In all seriousness, I’m really trying to approach the hiatus in a positive manner. It’s not easy and it’s a big change, but I know it’s IMPORTANT for me to do this and it will help me in the LONG TERM. I always believe in putting your health first. I hope this hiatus will allow me to be a stronger person and a better runner in the long-term.
Thank you for your support through my hiatus! You guys are the best.