stepping back

Hello running friends! I hope that everyone is doing well and having good start to the week. I cannot believe we are in October’s final stretch. Time is flying.

The week before last was one of the biggest weeks in my running and training that I have had in well over a year. With 53 miles total – including a mid-week speed session done in crazy BLAZING heat and humidity (it was unseasonably hot and humid around here and I had to go at lunch time, under the hot sun, because of my teaching schedule) as well as a 16 mile long run workout – I was spent by the time Sunday night rolled around.


While I know that 53 miles in a week used to be something that my body and mind would handle pretty easily a couple of years ago, it took YEARS of smart training to get to that point and it is a big deal to me on every level now. Adapting to higher mileage is a gradual process, and one that takes patience and requires listening to your body. For me it also requires stepping back every few weeks to give my body and my brain a chance to recover before it begs me to do so. I went into last week keenly aware that pushing things again after a week like that would not have been in my best interest, and wow was I right.

By as soon as Tuesday my body put the breaks on my training. I felt a little niggle of pain on the inside of my left knee, where the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles connect at the joint. Nothing serious, but definitely something to respect. I cut Tuesday’s run short and then took the following two days off. In that time I did some Pilates and strength work to stay active, saw my (amazing) physical therapist Lee (at B. Young Physical Therapy in Apex) for an assessment and some dry needling, and on Friday morning I went out for an easy 6 miles with a good friend – pain free and grateful.


I was so glad that I took those two days off. Lee told me that I should be good to go for my long run workout on Sunday, but on Friday night I started to feel a sore throat coming on. The next morning I literally had NO voice and felt wiped out. My resting heart rate was way higher than normal that day. I took the day off from running and hydrated like a champ. That night I went to bed earlier than usual and then yesterday morning woke up and thought I would see how it felt to run. My coach had put a 16 mile workout on my schedule again, with instructions to run the first 10 miles at an easy effort and then 2×2 miles at marathon pace (with an easy mile between sets) and finish with a cool down mile. My resting heart rate was 20bpm higher than normal before I left the house. I usually like to go to the American Tobacco Trail for my long runs, but it’s a 25 minute drive each way for me and since I wasn’t sure how this run would go I decided to run around my neighborhood instead. I took the first mile very easy, and while I felt ok I knew that pushing the pace was not in the cards for me, and that 16 miles probably wasn’t either. I made the decision to keep my heart rate in my zone 3, running a steady even pace and called it a day after 12 beautiful, reflective miles. My average pace was 9:11, and I felt better after the run was over than I did before I started.

Last week I ran 31 miles total as compared to the prior week’s 53. I took 3 rest days as opposed to my usual 1. This stepping back was really a gift for me because it gave me a different perspective and the space to really reflect and think about where I am at right now, where I want to be and how I feel would be best for me to get there. This morning my resting heart rate was back to normal after an awesome 8 hours of sleep last night, and I ran 6 easy miles with my good friend Yael to start the day. I am feeling much better and happy that I listened to my body last week, even if it meant taking extra time off.

I am going to go after some old dreams in the next couple of years. At the age of 41 I feel like I am still young enough to tackle them, and because of the road I have been down I am also wise enough to do so in a patient and conservative way – always keeping the big picture in mind.


I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Monday, and a great start to the new week. We are in the thick of marathon season for many, a time so full of ups and downs – pushing hard and recovering even harder. Do you take step back weeks in your training proactively? This is something I believe in for myself and also for the athletes I coach, especially as we age. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Love, Jess.


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