Days Off

I got home late last night after a hard day. I was talking on the phone with a friend at about 11:30, and I mentioned that I was going to go for a run once we finished talking. My friend, a non-runner, immediately declared me insane. I laughed it off. But then soon after we spoke, I looked at a mirror and saw that my eyes were completely bloodshot. I was dead tired. I considered what my friend had said on the phone about taking the night off.

Should I do it?

I understand the use of days off of running; I take a day off a week. But this was a Tuesday night, the middle of a week, not my typical night off. After weighing the benefits of running versus an extra hour of sleep, I opted for the sleep. And I think I made the right choice.

It may seem stupid that I even considered running so late when I was so tired. What’s so bad about a day off? Well, non-runners have a hard time understanding this, but I’m sure my running audience understands completely. Running is so much a part of our lives that we feel guilty if we forsake it even for a day. Just like most people take a shower a day; nothing bad would happen if we skipped a day here or there (unless you ran that day, then you’d smell pretty atrocious), but tradition tells us we must shower every day or risk social ostracism or some deadly disease associated with bad hygiene.

Running every day is kind of like showering. Once I wake up in the morning and say that I’m going for a run today, I’m stuck with my decision. Planned days off are one thing, but unexpected ones are entirely different. It’s the difference between knowing you won’t be able to shower one day because you’re traveling as opposed to coming home to the unpleasant surprise that the water isn’t working. Running is an obsession for a lot of us; a healthy obsession, but an obsession nonetheless. So while it can be hard for us to part with it for even one night, it’s part of the all-important improvisation process that is so important to runners (see my post Running Smart for more on improvisation in running).

I have the fact that I’m fairly awake this morning to thank to my last minute change of running plans. It’s nice that I can break freely from routine. Of course, today I now have to run twice my usual distance to make up for last night. 🙂