To summarize my training last week, I ran once on Monday. Then I got sick and slept for three days straight. Not exaggerating, but I slept over 16 hours daily for three days. By the fourth day, I still had a headache and didn’t want to run. Finally by day 5, I was already five days into not running, so I thought: “why not just extend my break longer?” I didn’t miss running at all.
So to recap, I ran once and haven’t run since Monday. My plan this summer was to take an extended break and now worked out well. I’m not sure how long I’ll take off, but I’ll run when I’m mentally ready to run again.
Instead of writing a traditional training post, I’ll talk about some reasons for resting. The idea of rest isn’t new, unusual, or life changing. It’s important for every single runner, new or old, elite or not, to take rest.
So what are some worries?
Worry 1: Your Body Will Lose Fitness
You aren’t running, and your body will lose fitness. It’s a real statement. The longer you don’t run, the more likely you are to lose fitness. However, you will gain fitness back quickly, and you will come back stronger. A few weeks isn’t a big deal and the benefits of taking the rest outweigh the consequence of losing fitness.
Worry 2: You’ll Gain Weight
I’ve gained a few pounds everytime I’ve been injured. That’s my body’s way of saying: “Hey you are doing the recovery thing right.” I used to think not running meant I should cross train as much as I ran, but that isn’t the case. Allowing your body rest might cause weight gain but once you start running again, you will lose whatever you might have gained.
Yes, you might gain a few pounds but if you don’t rest and recover, the rest period doesn’t do you any good. To clarify, I don’t think it’s easy and all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s necessary.
For me, I’ve been running nonstop for about a year. I’ve had cut back weeks and mini taper weeks but nothing considered significant rest.
My last two months of running I’ve felt all of the following:
- Physical Burnout: I’ve had more bad runs than good runs…
- Mental Burnout: I’ve had more days I’ve felt like running is a chore and not a hobby.
- Minor aches, issues and pains: my butt hurt after Shamrock and metatarsal pain last month.
Most of the time my running breaks come from a serious related running injury. Being injured forces me to take time off and give myself a break. After resting, I come back stronger. Since this break isn’t caused by an issue, it’s hard to “just take the time off”. I can rest when I want too, so I’ve pushed if off until tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow.
So what are benefits of full running rest?
Not reduced mileage but full running rest
- Recovery: First and foremost, you’ll recover from months of possible damage to your body. The damage includes both hard races and just training. Your body will recover from the stress that you’ve put on it. You might not realize that you had several small aches and pains forming.
- Injury Risk: Your injury risk goes much further down.
- Mental Recharge: This is the most important for me right now. Mentally my heart isn’t into running, and it’s giving me time to recharge and do other things with my life. When I miss running, I’ll start running. It could be a week; it could be a month.
- More Time: You have plenty of extra time to relax and get other things done.
Finally, How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Break?
- First and foremost, actually rest. Don’t substitute over cross-training for everything. Sure, working out occasionally is fine but take your rest as serious as a goal race.
- Don’t fear weight gain: Like anything, your fitness is based on months and years. You might lose fitness or gain
I can’t tell you how long my running rest will be. Maybe I’ll run in another week, but maybe it will be longer. I did get in the pool on Sunday, which was more enjoyable than anticipated.
Questions for you:
Outside of an injury, have you taken a break from running?
Have you felt burnt out from something before?