For the first time since I began running in 2002, I’ve been pondering a non-injury imposed running break. Not a rest day, but an actual extended period of placing my running shoes on lock down.
In the last 10 years, my training log shows only 1 month with 0 running miles and it was in the throes of my IT band pain in 2007, which I’ve happily learned to prevent and tada as a result, 120+ months of logging 100-150 miles.
Could this be why my recent runs have felt so hard?
Is it the move to altitude?
Is it the addition of hills after years of flat Florida training?
Is it learning to run trails for the first time?
Is it just my hormones acting up?Elite athletes often take up to 6 weeks off from all running after peak races. This isn’t laziness, it’s tried and tested training to allow them both physical and mental recovery.
Now I’m not racing that hard, so I haven’t felt that draw to take time off from the sheer overload…but maybe…anytime you’ve been running so consistently around work, travel and life the body wants a change.
Here are a few signs it might be time to go your own way for a bit.
Mumble, Grumble, Go
If you’re spending more time tying your shoes than necessary to delay heading out and find yourself saying “I should” go run more days than you eat dinner, well then it might be time for a break. You could be overloaded with other life stresses or just need a pause to remember how much you enjoy the time.
You’re not sleeping well, you’re gaining weight despite the long runs, you’re resting HR is elevated, you’re craving loads of sugar and you’re generally just fatigued. It’s easy for distance runners to fall in to the more is better trap and well we like the challenge of adding miles or speed, but your body needs time to catch up.
Learn more about recovering from adrenal fatigue >>
Instead of feeling more zen after you’re runs, your family has begun to avoid you like someone with bird flu. Maybe your pace is slower, maybe you’re just plain exhausted, maybe the runs are going fabulously but you aren’t enjoying them. You don’t HAVE to run, you GET to run…so if a change in perspective doesn’t change your emotional state, it’s probably time to hit pause.
A Wandering Eye
Have you been noticing your CrossFit friends chiseled biceps and her amazing power to do pull ups without looking like a past her prime fighter? Have you been thinking that your friends dance moves from Zumba look like a bucket load of bring on the party?
There is nothing wrong with spending some time cross training! It usually leads to better running, if and when you decide to return. A wandering eye could simply mean you need to shake up your program and even a few weeks or a well timed class throughout training could keep you excited.
See the best types of cross training for endurance runners >>My arm idol and ab training motivator – LAFitara
The Never ending Story
Tell me you remember that flying white dog dragon? No? I’m getting old.
Regardless, if you’ve found that no matter the motivating podcast from Rich Roll or the exceptional audiobook of survival of Cheryl Strayed in Wild, you just can’t wait for the run to end…well you could need a running group, a downgrade in distance or a total break. Running is supposed to fun and your release, if it’s become a chore don’t force it.
No Pain, No Gain
B.S. – This is the worst perpetrated training lie told to runners of all abilities. Of course running isn’t always comfortable, some days I think my legs are filled with rocks until mile 3 and others I wonder who stole my oxygen, but discomfort isn’t the same as pain. If you are consistently feeling an ache, a sharp pain or won’t go away throbbing it’s time to just be smart.
Read more about how to distinguish discomfort from pain >>
A running break could mean a period off from all intense exercises, giving your body a total rest. You can enjoy restorative yoga, take a long relaxing walk, get a massage and read that book sitting on your nightstand for the last 2 months.
A running break could mean switching things up by hitting the pool, trolling the roads on bike instead of foot, exploring what ClassPass has to offer in your city. If you’re energy levels are good, find a short term goal in another area to keep you focused so that you won’t lose any fitness when you’re ready to jump back in.
A running break could mean going completely insane, which is partially why I haven’t yet done it. I have this odd need to hit a certain mileage this year and a compulsion to run for a 2017 PR since I didn’t even consider that as a 2016 goal. I definitely fear the break will have me coming back weaker, not stronger…but I also know from 14 years of running that’s just not true when done right.
Do you take planned no running weeks?
Have you taken an extended time off running?
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