Today I officially ended my break from running and over the next couple of weeks, will get geared back up for the early races in 2008. While the break has been very good both mentally and physically, I was psyched to get back out there. I did my best to stay in shape by riding the bike, training on the elliptical machine and doing slow easy runs. However, I definitely lost a good bit of speed (not that there was that much to begin with) and some overall fitness but overall felt okay today.
Mike and I ran in the trails at Kings Mountain State Park which is about 45 minutes from Charlotte on the NC/SC border. It is adjacent to Crowders Mountain State Park, where I did a good bit of training for MMT this year. I have been to the park before but never to run. I really liked the trails and found it an ideal place for both tempo runs or easy recovery pace runs. While there are no big climbs, there are several rolling sections (especially on the back side) that give you a nice break from flat terrain. There are a couple of spots that would be good for mini hill repeats as well. I had limited time this morning so I only did one loop plus an add on section up to Brown Mountain. It is listed as about 17 miles but I think there was at least one extra mile tucked in there somewhere.
I really noticed some fatigue in my legs (especially hips and quads) after about 2 hours. That is not surprising to me since I have not been running lately and did give a decent effort early on. I also bonked somewhat after about 2.5 hours, likely due to being a bit behind on calories. The weather was surprisingly humid which made the 50 degree temps feel much warmer - 30 minutes into the run and I was already drenched. I managed to roll my left ankle a couple of times which felt wonderful. :-) Towards the end of the season this year I had overcome my seemingly chronic ankle-rolling ways but a month away from the trails provided a window for them to creep back in. I iced it for a bit this afternoon and it feels okay now.
I would be lying if I said the loss of speed and some fitness didn't bother me but a wise man once said that the first run after a meaningful break should be difficult, otherwise you didn't take a long enough break. Mike made a good point in that my endurance seemed fine and the fitness will come back before I know it. I hope to run on these trails much more this year and could even envision putting on a race there someday. 2008 is a year that I have big expectations of myself (preview to follow soon) and am excited about taking the first steps today. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!