Every year that I stay injury free, I take 7-10 days off as a planned break usually after a major goal race. Usually, I am itching to run within about 3 days and find myself looking forward to the end of rest period. I highly recommend it to guard against burnout. In fact, I'm beginning to think that perhaps a whole month off every year might be beneficial. I knew an elite runner in high school that used to take off the entire month of June then start base building for cross-country in July and August. I've even heard of world class Kenyan runners taking a month off by choice.
The worst case scenario has crossed my mind. It is as follows:
I have read that runners require more magnesium because intense exercise depletes it. However, it is not usually a significant increase in demand for it (maybe 10-20%). I cannot tolerate Mg in pill form and not only did it not get my tissue Mg up to normal, it threw my Na and K through the roof. I fear that the only way to re-build my tissue magnesium levels is to stop running. If the transdermal magnesium does not work, I have no other choice. However, I am not convinced that stopping running really will boost Mg. I was out 3 weeks in Fall 2010 due to a knee injury and guess what happened to my numbers? The Mg rocketed up from 2 to 2. That's right. No change at all.
I'm willing to see it through on the transdermal magnesium for better or worse. I would much rather simply put some gel on my skin a few times per day than take a total of 14 or 15 pills. As of now, I am still off everything. That makes me uneasy because I was not a situation in which I "no longer needed" the pills. I had an adverse reaction. The same stuff that has been a life saver for so long is now toxic to me. I am nearly certain that the transdermal Mag is the cause. What will happen to my numbers next time? Who knows? It is possible that everything is at least getting closer to normal. If that's the case, I will probably know it because my running will almost certainly improve. On the other hand, there is also a chance that my numbers will be my worst ever (extreme Na+K with no improvement in my Mg). If that happens, I will have no choice but to go back to the same old oral supplements with little hope of recovery. I was scheduled to send in a sample in early August but I want another 6 weeks on the gel provided that I am improving.
How much time off to take:
Even if I do show improvement by the end of the week, I still plan on taking next week off. After that point, we'll see how I feel. If I've improved, I'm likely good to go. If I collapse again and I have no excuse, I'm taking another month. If that doesn't work, I'll have to concede that the TMG is a failure. If that happens, it will be 6 weeks from now and I'll be back on the oral supplements. If the TMG does fail, I'll really be in bad shape so I may need another 6 weeks. It could be a total of 3 months or more. Let's say at that point, my Mg is back up and my numbers are normal. I believe I can train hard again but will take a month off every year to rebuild. We'll see how I feel. It is possible, however unlikely, that I will find myself not running and enjoying it. If I get to the end of the year and I still don't have a decent medical report and still have not broken out of my slump, it will almost certainly be over for me as a serious runner. I will have to accept being a casual jogger.
No need to rehash what that would mean for my broken dreams of a book deal. That would be heartbreak and I may never be the same again.