For most keen runners the idea of taking a planned break from running is hard to swallow. All the fitness they’ve worked hard to develop will go and they’ll be lazy and unfit. Usually injury is the only reason a keen runner would even think about a break from running, but it may not be such a bad idea.
So your coming to the end of the racing season, there’s no goal race on the immediate horizon. You’re either satisfied with the results you’ve produced or not satisfied. So whats next? You can either keep training in the interests of keeping your fitness, ease your training back and try and maintain a fitness level you are happy with. Or just stop for a few weeks and focus on other things in your life. At times you’ll get to this point in your racing year and lack motivation to continue training. Is it time for a break?
Four good reasons to take a break
- You have a niggling injury
- Your motivation to train has decreased
- You race times have stagnated or gone backwards
- Running feels difficult
The easiest reason to decide to take a break from running is if you have a niggling injury. If you don’t have a race on the horizon then taking time to take a break can help you rest and recover the body and come back rejuvenated. Long periods of consistent running takes its toll on the body and minor niggling injuries can be easily overcome with a period of rest. There may be nothing to be gained by continuing to train.
If you’ve finished your racing season and your motivation has decreased taking a break is very worthwhile. Again there is nothing to be gained by pushing yourself through training when you aren’t motivated to run. Taking a break can rejuvenate the mind as much as the body. Enjoy other aspects of your life during the break that may be sacrificed through daily running habits.
If your race times have stagnated or even gone backwards continuing to train through without an immediate goal can also be deflating. If your race times haven’t improved you may need to look at your training schedule and make adjustments for your next goal. Taking a break from running can allow you to reset and assess whats working or not working in your training. It might be a time when you decide you need a coach and reach out to one for help. A few weeks break from running may also spark your motivation to get back into training and right the wrongs of your recent results.
If running feels difficult and each run doesn’t come easy, it could be time for a break from running. Often this happens after long races where you’ve fatigued yourself physically and mentally and haven’t recovered yet. If running feels difficult and there isn’t an immediate goal, theres nothing to gain from pushing through. Slow down and take a break.
When you take a break from running you can go one of two ways. You can retreat completely from running or you can use the time to start to plan your next goal races and plan your next phase of running. You’ll likely need to find an outlet in your life where running has now left. The goal is to enjoy the break so finding something outside running you enjoy or gaining motivation through planning new goals is important.
When you take a break from running you should remember you will lose fitness. But if you’ve gained it once then it will be easier to gain the next time. If you are an experienced runner the fitness will come back relatively quickly. A good rule is for each week you break it will take two weeks to regain the fitness lost. If you are planning your next races during your break from running you should factor this into how far into the future you plan these races.
Taking a planned break from running is a scary thought for some runners. If running gives you joy in your life then the goal should be to run for a lifetime. Taking a break from running in the short term may just help keep you running further, faster and happier in the long term.