Well, it’s safe to say the honeymoon phase is over.

After five weeks on the official training calendar and an exact 99 miles completed, I broke off from the schedule for the first time. I took my first non-sanctioned, non-scheduled rest day. And then I took another. And then I took another.

Week six was bad. Week six was hard. It was hard in a way I hadn't anticipated. I had been ready for a grueling week six. Instead, it was almost lackluster.

All I wanted was to run week six with as much enthusiasm as I had run the previous five, but it didn’t happen. I decided to skip that first run because I felt a tweak in my knees, and I didn’t want to push it. I don’t know my runner’s body well enough yet to know what kind of pain is pain I should push through and what kind of pain is pain that demands rest. To be honest, it wasn’t painful pain. It was discomfort brought on by a strong ten mile run two days before. It was the kind of discomfort I expect to feel as I train for my first marathon.

Still, I played it safe. I felt disappointed, and I didn’t run. Instead, I spent two hours shoveling the snow in my driveway. I found solace in the necessity of the task. I’d decided not to run, but at least I could shovel. I told myself I would stretch, but I didn’t. The curse of week six.

That was a Tuesday. Wednesday, I woke up before sunrise. There is something special about early morning runs. I live alone. There’s no one but the cat to bother me in the mornings. If I can get running without first being bothered, it’s going to be a good run. And if I can start my day knowing that I’ve run a good run, it’s going to be a good day.

Wednesday, 6am: I throw on my running clothes. I grab a granola bar. I’d pushed myself through the frustration of extra rest the day before with a decision that it would be only one slip. It would be only one day. The knees would be healed. The forgotten stretches wouldn’t matter. The schedule would continue. 6:05am: I feed the cat. I’m nearly out the door when… tweak. Those knees. I stay home. That damned week six.

This is where my memory gets foggy. I remember feeling a wave of emotions on Thursday. I didn’t get my morning together in time to run before work, so all throughout the day, I had in my mind the prospect of an evening run. But after work, I stood in a bathroom stall at my office. I changed into my running clothes. My knees felt fine, but I felt off. I felt tired, both physically and emotionally, like any attempt to move my body would require a reappearance of a roused mind. I changed back into my work clothes and told myself that it was over. Three days off the schedule were three too many. I had failed. (This is ludicrous!) This is me. I didn’t run.

Of course, a night of sleep cured my internal breakdown. Friday was a new day. More than that, it was a scheduled, guilt-free rest day. I embraced every minute, then started again on Saturday with a steady three miles and a reminder of how lucky I am to be running at all.

To week seven. To strong cores and tolerant knees. To the regiments that manage my expectations and to the privilege of flexibility—I run.

[caption id="attachment_8799" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]rookie-blog-february Ready to take on week seven[/caption]