What I learned during my summer (without a) vacation
Ahhh, summer.It is hands down my favorite season. Flip flops, tank tops, early sunrises and late sunsets; I would take the occasional heat wave over a blizzard any day.
As a child summer seemed like it lasted forever. Running around the neighborhood, making up games in the schoolyard, splashing in the neighbor’s pool until mom called us home for dinner. Every summer we took a vacation, many years visiting the Jersey Shore where I perfected my skeeball skills on the boardwalk. And there was Disney World, Hilton Head, San Diego, Washington DC and Virginia, where my parents got us to tour colonial Williamsburg in exchange for a trip to Busch Gardens.
Somewhere along the way, summer got shorter, or at least seems to pass more quickly. I had been waiting for this summer since February 19th (my personal breaking point this winter) and I loved every minute of it, despite not getting to take advantage of some of it’s best parts.
Following the marathon last April, while most of me recovered in a few weeks, my knees remained a little cranky. I tried to get through it for a while, but eventually caved and realized cutting back on my mileage, along with some physical therapy, was what I needed.
I also didn’t take an extended vacation this summer. We are hoarding our vacation days for our upcoming wedding and honeymoon, so it was for a good reason, but I was very jealous of those who got to spend full weeks at the beaches in Gloucester or the Cape. Or anywhere.
But this slightly atypical summer did teach me a few things.
Staying motivated when I’m not training for something is difficult! Waking up early to run can be challenging any day, but 99 times out of 100, while training for a race, the run wins. This summer, there were more alarms reset than I can ever remember. Sure, there were other reasons to get up and workout, but they weren’t as motivating. I had to be a little more creative with my schedule, squeezing in lunchtime workouts or signing up for a yoga class in advance to keep active. After all, I have a wedding dress to look good in this fall!
I can not run and still stay in shape. I can’t say I would choose not to run, but the image I had of me turning into a slug when I realized my knees needed a break also never became reality. I think it’s good thing in some ways, both mentally and physically. Mentally, I CAN’T WAIT to train for my next race. Physically, I have been in the gym strength training more. I know this is good for me, but when managing my marathon training schedule, it seem to always be the first thing cut when I run short on time. I did run a bit this summer, not for speed or distance, but for the company.
Sleep is good. It may sound obvious to someone who regularly sleeps 7-9 hours a night, but it is amazing how much more energy I have after sleeping for about 7 hours a night pretty consistently. I don’t remember how I woke up at 4:30 this winter to run 8-12 miles before work and my brain functioned afterwards.
Without a summer vacation to look forward to, I found other parts of summer to be excited about. This summer was a good lesson in “living in the moment” for me. I celebrated the weddings of 2 of my favorite people, shared dinners with friends and rocked out to the Zac Brown Band (and Steven Tyler) at Fenway Park. I appreciated warm, sunny walks with Rusty early in the morning and low-key Friday nights with Brian. It was not a week at the Cape, but I can’t say my summer didn’t have its share of relaxing moments.
If given the opportunity, I would have run many more miles this summer and spent more time at the beach. But this summer didn’t turn out so badly without a vacation or lots of races, and I may have benefitted in a ways I never would have expected.
And by the time we are on our honeymoon this fall, I’m sure I will appreciate it even more.