You are now in the pleasant valley between your Monumental race and your next big thing. As nice as it is in this valley right now you know if you stay too long it will become uncomfortable. Do make sure you stay here long enough to recover and to be ready for your next climb but start planning your next ascent before too much time passes.
After a race that was the focus of your training and maybe a good slice of your real life for a string of months you will need recovery time. You will need to recover and recharge both physically and emotionally. The two cannot be separated and many times the emotional recovery takes a bit longer.
How do you know if you need a break? This is a good time to evaluate your history. Do you find during long training periods your enthusiasm for the daily work and the big goal wanes and it begins to feel like a job and you just want to be done with the race? Do you find you tend to drag little aches and pains around that inhibit consistent healthy training? Are there people or things that have not gotten the time and attention they deserve? If so, a break to reset mentally, get completely healthy, and to reestablish life balance is a really good idea.
Typically, runners fall into two categories after a big goal race. Some are so ready for a break that the days turn into weeks and then into months until they have let themselves go so far they have an uphill battle to lose the potato chip weight before they can start actually training again. Others are searching race calendars before the weekend is out looking for the next one. As with most things in training and life there is a nice balance in between.
The key is to take a long enough break that when you start building and the mileage and intensity is brought back to a boil, you will not need another break until the new training cycle has been completed. A good litmus test is that you should be excited about getting back to it. If not, take some time to examine the reasons why your enthusiasm has abandoned you before forcing yourself back to work.
Running is a sport of passion and enthusiasm and without these in abundance running is simply no fun. A planned break of a week or two once or twice a year can safeguard against physical breakdown but perhaps more importantly allow for emotional and mental recovery and rejuvenation. Much like your daily recovery needs these breaks may look a great deal different from person to person.
While the specifics should vary for runners at different levels and psychological make ups, here is a recommendation for your annual or semiannual break.
Week One: Very little to no running. Possibly include some light cross-training for exercise and not to replace your run training. Take most days completely off.
Week Two: Some light running but nothing you would consider “training”.
Week Three: Mostly relaxed running bringing your mileage back up to the low end of your normal range.
Week Four: Add some quality and get back to business.
Health and enthusiasm is a very hard combination to beat. They may only be a few recovery weeks away. Enjoy!