Reducing your training for a week can help keep injuries away. Rest weeks allow your body to repair damaged muscles but also allow your mental state to rebuild.
As runners we often want to run as fast and as long as possible. We want our mileage to be consistently high, and we want to be at our best all of the time.
Rest, down weeks and taper, can be the hardest weeks to incorporate into training.
When Should You Take a Cutback Week?
Like there is a different shoe for every runner, there is a different “right time” to take a cutback week for every runner. Generally, every 4-6 weeks, athletes should take time a week of decreased mileage and intensity.
How Much Should You Actually Cut Back?
Again, there is no right or wrong answer. Anywhere between 25-50% of weekly mileage or 50-90% of the highest mileage weeks.
How Can Rest Weeks Prevent Mental Burnout?
Let’s face it, at some point, most runners “burn out”. My burnout came shortly before I got injured. I tried to push through it but looking back my body was telling me to rest. I should have rested both physically and mentally.
Taking a rest week allows yourself to “miss running” and to rebuild the confidence you once had.
Any runner, elite or not, can benefit from taking a rest week. It will help recover mentally, physically and emotionally. You aren’t going to lose fitness from taking a step back from running for a week. In fact, you are going to recover and gain fitness.
Question for you: Do you take recovery weeks?