A blog by runners. For runners.

Take a break from running to rest, recover, and recharge

take a break from running

We write a lot about logging miles on WalkJogRun, but do you ever purposefully skip running without being sick, tired, or injured? Some of you might be thinking: Why would I want to do that? I LOVE running! However, you might be surprised to learn I certainly take solid breaks, and I didn’t realize I was taking these mini-vacations at somewhat regular intervals until recently. It seems that my body needs a break at the change of every season. A reset, if you will.

And though I used to think I was just being way too easy on myself, I have decided to work these week-long breaks into my schedule because they benefit my running. At first, there wasn’t any hard science behind the break I was taking. I simply noticed I find myself mentally and physically tired before or after a new training season, and somehow this schedule coincides with the calendar seasons.

I take the time off and – voilà! – all is right in the world again.

I have noticed when I take a full week completely off from activity every now and again, I don’t see negative impacts on my race times. In fact, I’ve gotten much faster over the years. Hardest of all for me to understand, though, was how quickly I resumed quality training after pregnancy and childbirth, which included weeks upon weeks off from running.

The more I looked into the matter, the more I found in favor of this practice or one like it. It seems that even elite athletes take between two and six weeks off per year to rest and recharge. They use their time to travel, kick back, and do anything and everything that doesn’t involve running. Obviously, elite athletes have earned their right to time off – after all, running is their job.

If you’re just moonlighting like I am, the same principle still applies. Many of us burn the candle at both ends with work, family, and other responsibilities. So, take notes from the professional athletes you look up to and become a couch potato. Or at least take an extended break every now and again. For most elites, a long break consists of “one week of nothing, one to two weeks of cross-training.” For you, it could be something different.

If you don’t want to take off running completely, it’s still wise to resist “race mania” and indulge in some type of off-season. Coach Jenny over at Runner’s World gives a great sample schedule for those of you looking for a break without a total break, if that makes sense. For a month, try running just 3-4 days a week between 30-70 minutes each session. Pace should be easy, but once a week it’s OK to do some intervals. Otherwise, cross-trianing (anything that isn’t running) is the icing on the recovery cake.

I’d love to know how you guys work breaks into your training and racing schedules. Do you plan it or does it happen more organically? Do you observe patterns in your physical and mental energy that lead to breaks?

Please share in the comments below!

Written by  Ashley Marcin.