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.

 

 

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.  šŸ™‚

 

  • 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!  šŸ™‚

 

  • 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.

{ 48 comments }

 

  • Moran April 22, 2009, 4:31 am

    Fabulous post, Caitlin! It’s good to read how this has been treating you! I can really understand the “food” concerns!

  • VeggieGirl April 22, 2009, 4:43 am

    Thank you for the Q&A's; and hang in there with the readjustment!!

  • Leah @ Simply Fabulous April 22, 2009, 4:46 am

    Caitlin, great answers to the questions…I think you are approaching this hiatus with a very smart attitude!

  • Justine April 22, 2009, 4:59 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding the running hiatus! I think you’re handling it really well…anyone’s bound to experience the same feelings you are after going from running 20-25 miles/week to not running at all!

  • D10 April 22, 2009, 5:01 am

    Glad to hear you are settling into a non-running routine. I think your knees will greatly benefit from the break. Plus, there are so many other forms of exercise. Do you think stength training (especially lowever body) will help with your knees? The added muscle support might help.

  • Alison April 22, 2009, 5:01 am

    Thanks for the info.
    I don’t run in the winter, but I stay generally active using the elliptical or bike at the gym. I’ve found that I’m in good enough shape that I can immediately go back to doing 10 miles runs. So I wouldn’t worry about getting out of shape since you’re active.

  • Mica April 22, 2009, 5:03 am

    I’m really impressed that you’re handling this break from running so maturely (=doing what’s right for your body). I’m sure your knees will thank you and will reward you with a long career of running (just one without marathons).

    And is Nate serious that “hiatus” isn’t used frequently in everyday English, or am I just bad at detecting Internet sarcasm?

  • Amy April 22, 2009, 5:12 am

    What? What’s Nate talking about? Hiatus is used quite often in modern English — it’s not arcane at all!! haha
    Great perspective you share here – most importantly, you remind me how important it is to be aware of what I am eating and how I feel during workouts and after. Constant self-awareness and -analysis – I could work on that!
    I hope your hiatus need not last too long — I’ve been there before too — it did make me realize how emotional running becomes for die-hard runners!

  • almosthealthychris April 22, 2009, 5:36 am

    Great post. I have felt the same way since I stopped running cause of my knee. It’s all about embracing the positive aspect of the hiatus. Even though most days you want to scream. Wow that tofu looks good. What’s your fav tofu recepie? I’m trying to get the hang of it, but cant seem to find a way of making it that tastes as good as the your tofu looks.

  • sloank April 22, 2009, 5:54 am

    Thanks for sharing with us, Caitlin! And thank you for being so honest!!! Keep on truckin’, you’ll get through this!!

  • Oh She Glows April 22, 2009, 6:09 am

    Thanks for your honesty hun!

    I can personally attest to everything you said. I too was disappointed that my hunger didn’t drop like I thought it would. I found that my body was happy eating the same amount of food- exercise or no exercise! lol. You are really doing a good thing for yourself though and Im so proud of you!

  • Susan April 22, 2009, 6:11 am

    Thanks for sharing! I would have such a hard time if I took a break from running, especially with being jealous of others and most definitely eating! Hopefully you can find a second love in swimming!

  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? April 22, 2009, 6:15 am

    What a great post! It seems like you’re hanging in there pretty well, and adjusting!

  • Meg April 22, 2009, 6:18 am

    Love this post! Thank you for being so honest about how the hiatus made you feel and for answering all those questions. You rock!

  • dailygoods April 22, 2009, 6:20 am

    this will help you so much in the long run and i’m glad you’re finding new activities to keep you motivated! youre handeling everything so well and i know that it will help you so much!

  • Thinspired April 22, 2009, 6:25 am

    Caitlin, I love your attitude with this whole issue and I am so proud of you for staying positive. There’s no “poor me” at all, and you are thinking logically and have a practical plan. I’m sure it’s taken a toll on you emotionally but you are handling this so gracefully. You should be so proud of yourself!

    P.S. Can’t wait to hear more details of the blogger summit!

  • stephanie April 22, 2009, 6:34 am

    Caitlin, I was so excited to hear about the summit a few of you are planning!! Please keep us highly updated! You’re blog is so helpful and encouraging.
    All my best!
    Stephanie

  • Amanda April 22, 2009, 6:36 am

    Thanks for the honest post!!

    Although my running hiatus wasn’t do to injury, I was burnt out after training for a half-marathon and took some time off (PA winters make me want to stay inside!) I agree that it was difficult to switch my eating mentality, but it came with time. I also was able to discover different ways to stay in shape (30 Day Shred, other Jillian DVDs, yoga, and cardio machines).

    Stay positive! You’re both inspiring and relatable, which is awesome šŸ™‚

  • livelaughlyss April 22, 2009, 6:40 am

    Caitlin, this is such a healthy mindset. As long as you are taking care of yourself, the little things just don’t matter! Make sure you keep smiling – that’s most important!!

  • A Side of Single April 22, 2009, 6:41 am

    What a great outlook! I struggled majorly when I had to take a HIATUS from running when I injured myself. I wish I had your poise at the time. Keep up the positive thoughts!
    Kristen

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog April 22, 2009, 6:43 am

    love your outlook!

    I did laugh at your “hating other runners” comment though because I can TOTALLY relate! I started my running “hiatus” right when it started to get warm out so there were TONS of runners! I was very bitter. I remember yelling at James when we were in the car “These people weren’t running through winter!!! They’re fair weather runners!!” haha

  • jenngirl April 22, 2009, 6:43 am

    Great post Caitlin! I appreciate your honesty, and I think you are doing a great job with everything. You’re on the right track too, just keep staying positive! šŸ™‚

  • Leila April 22, 2009, 6:58 am

    Great post Caitlin. I was seriously injured about 2 months ago and have just been easing back into working out. Definitely gained some weight, etc, so many of the issues you’re talking about I have experienced just recently. But I have to keep reminding me that this is just a blip, I won’t be inactive or carrying around a few extra pounds for life – and like you, I’ve been opened up to so many other great activities that I would have never given the time of day to, like swimming.

    Keep at it!

  • Ellen April 22, 2009, 7:12 am

    ya know, in high school my best friend’s mom was a marathon runner. she was training for a race, hurt her knee, and ended up having to wear a huge knee brace all day for quite a while. lets just say, my friend spent a lot of time at my house when her mom was home! it’s hard to not let it affect you, but you’re doing great staying positive. thanks for the post!

  • Kristi @ Sweet Cheeks April 22, 2009, 7:17 am

    Keep up the good work girl! You will get through this just fine!

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina April 22, 2009, 7:23 am

    great GREAT post Caitlin. After my injury in May (after only having been a consistent runner for 4 months) I really fell into a slump. I could barely cross train at all- even walking hurt- so I had a bit of a different experience. After a month off and then a month of cross training I had completely lost my endurance. It was depressing and took a long time to get over. Now I know that my body is not meant for running such distances, and keep the distance to <5 or 6 miles at a time. Any more than that and I can barely walk. Lifelong injury for sure.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this topic.

    Also, I think you have found an EXCELLENT plan for your running hiatus… crosstraining + eyeballing your calorie intake + staying positive are all great ways to overcome this challenge.

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina April 22, 2009, 7:26 am

    Also, I had been a dancer and dance instructor for years, and having to take 4 weeks off from teaching my girls (I still taught them but without doing the actual moves) I was INSANELY jealous of them. Watching them dance each week without a care in the world was torture, but now I am so very thankful of everything my body can do, as I am sure you are too.

  • Brandi April 22, 2009, 7:33 am

    great answers – it seems like it’s going well. I can’t imagine how hard it would be after running so much like you were and after this long racing season, but it sounds like you’re doing well and you KNOW that it will make you better and healthier.

  • iowagirleats April 22, 2009, 7:34 am

    Ugh, staying away from something you love is definitely the pits – I really feel for you! However, this is a really positive thing for you body and your knees – and a great way to get introduced to other sporting activities!!

  • runsarah April 22, 2009, 7:38 am

    Great post Caitlin – thanks for sharing. I think you have an awesome attitude towards your break and I’m sure it will definitely speed up your injury healing.

  • Susan April 22, 2009, 7:44 am

    Caitlin, I always appreciate how honest you are!! Especially about the food thing. I think you’re doing the right thing, and as you’re discovering, there are so many other ways to be active outside of running! Thanks for your thoughts and good luck šŸ™‚

  • tfh April 22, 2009, 7:50 am

    I, like the others, appreciate your honesty and admire your maturity.

    I think we should start calling your hiatus an aperture. šŸ˜‰

  • Kayla April 22, 2009, 8:05 am

    Hey! Please look into Active Release Technique! http://www.activerelease.com you can search for a certified dr through their website by zip code! There is also an awesomeeeee Doc in altamonte, near the 1-4 exits, Dr Teixeira. There are lots of vids on YouTube that show what ART is. Basically it breaks up all of the scar tissue near an injured area by using movement, it can be brutal but it’s so worth it! A quick googling showed me that ppl with your knee condition have had success with ART šŸ™‚ hth!

  • Holly April 22, 2009, 8:13 am

    Thank you for your honest post. šŸ™‚ It sounds like many of us can relate and have been in your shoes – it’s very interesting how everyone handles it differently!

    You seem like a very optimistic person, though, and I’m sure that helps in dealing with all of this. And you’ll be out there kickin’ those other runners’ butts in no time.

  • Nate April 22, 2009, 8:24 am

    I like chasm. Let’s go with that.

    I think we could also go with furlough. Where were you on that one, Thesaurus.com?

  • MacDuff April 22, 2009, 8:27 am

    As someone who has worked and played hard all her life, let me tell you: there are going to be many hiatuses if you are going to be serious about athletic endeavors. This is a great way to get involved in other areas of training, though (and it sounds like you are).

    I was two weeks out of a marathon when I broke my rib. I couldn’t do anything – even sleeping was painful. But every crisis is an opportunity. Use your time wisely, and well!

  • Danielle April 22, 2009, 8:43 am

    Thank you for this post Caitlin. I love your honesty about this little bump in the road. You’re awesome šŸ™‚

  • *One Step at a Time* April 22, 2009, 8:48 am

    I am so proud of you for having a positive outlook on this. I can’t imagine how mentally challenging it must be but you will be so much better off in the long run (no pun intended!) šŸ™‚

  • ttfn300 April 22, 2009, 9:02 am

    GREAT post! it’s hard to keep things in perspective and stay positive in the midst of challenges like these!

  • balancemycake April 22, 2009, 9:05 am

    Good luck with the hiatus Caitlin, it must be frustrating at times, but you can do it!! šŸ™‚

  • redheadedjournal April 22, 2009, 9:11 am

    Great post! I know when I was on my running break I struggled with the same things. I am sure many others did/are too.

    Thanks! šŸ™‚

  • elise April 22, 2009, 9:15 am

    nate, whats wrong with hiatus?!

    caitlin, i think its nice that you are exploring other forms of exercise, even if it wasnt because of the best situation…

  • Natalie April 22, 2009, 10:08 am

    oh caitlin, i just want you to know that i sympathize with you completely! even though taking a break from running is a GOOD thing (mentally, physically, etc.), it’s so hard to make those adjustments at first. thanks to a couple of different injuries, i’ve run less in 2009 than i have probably since i was 15 (I’m 22 now). i definitely get what you mean about being jealous of other runners and freaking out about the hunger that is still present! but, like you, not running (or less running, where I’m currently at) has allowed me to explore other forms of working out and i have to say, my body likes the new challenges!

    haha that’s really all i’ve got for you…just wanted to say i understand and that your post resonated with me completely! if you ever need to vent about your running hiatus frustrations or excitements, feel free to email me šŸ™‚ (natalie.mclaury@gmail.com)

  • Jill Will Run April 22, 2009, 10:23 am

    This is an excellent post. I think many runners are Type A personalities and have a tendency to be too hard on themselves after setbacks. I fell in a marathon this year, had to drop out and get stitches in my chin and that was a huge blow. I had a huge range of emotions about allowing myself time to heal (both emotionally and physically) and it was a tough time. Thanks for addressing these!

  • Mrs. LC April 22, 2009, 11:04 am

    You are a stellar example of listening to your body! And I loved Nate’s question – I feel there’s a certain ring to “running chasm” as well as “running hiatus”. šŸ˜‰

  • LadyLara April 22, 2009, 11:50 am

    I know exactly how you feel. I had a kneecap injury that kept me from running for 1.5 years (and I’ve been a runner since I was 14). I had to get creative. Since that injury, I’ve had to learn to make adjustments with my running (starting off slowly, etc) and be better about cross training. You’ll be back running in no time.

    Also, you mentioned not always being “race ready.” I don’t think anyone is built for this. It’s all about the ebb and flow, avoiding injury.

    I wish you good running luck and many miles of road in your future!

  • nibblesandwiggles April 22, 2009, 11:55 am

    I can totally sympathize with your current situation and your acknowlegment that running cannot be your “everything”. After training for my first half, and getting a different injury every month, and then a woosie that put me out of running for about 2 months (IT Band), I really started to think (and still do to a large degree) that my body was just not made for running.

    I went through the same emotions and struggles as you when I had to stop, especially the jealousy @ other runners. It’s a REALLY hard adjustment to make.

    Can you do any strength training moves that will help your knees? Like strengthing your quads, hammies, etc?

    BTW – I am running again, training for a Full (reluctantly) with my hubby. Good thing he is understanding with my limitations.

  • jesslikesithot April 22, 2009, 9:06 pm

    It sounds like you are handling this situation to the best of your ability and I really admire your positivity!!! You definitely know what you are doing and i’m glad that you aren’t depriving yourself of your favorite foods or beating yourself up over missed runs….you seem to still be getting in REALLY great workouts! šŸ™‚

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