A blog by runners. For runners.

My month off from serious running


After my half marathon, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with myself. I initially took a few days off and a week of easy running, but then I immediately started in with ramping back into my marathon training that starts next week. Life had other plans, and I ended up taking quite a bit of time off from formal running. Thing is, this off season was probably the best thing I could have done for my body.

Indeed, taking a break from serious running — especially after a big goal is met — is one of the best, surest ways to rest, recover, and recharge. So, if you’re still on the fence, I’m here to share. The following is my experience from the past month of very light activity.

Stop tracking
Though I did continue running throughout my “break” I didn’t plot out a route or take a regular/measured loop around the neighborhood, and I certainly didn’t bring a watch on a single run. Instead, I let my body call the shots. If I felt like running around the block and no farther on a given day, I did that. If I felt like jaunting a bit farther, I followed that urge as well. Freedom from numbers was such a nice mental break as well.

Keep distance low
Even though I didn’t know while I was running how fast or far I was going, I kept loose track by mapping after the fact. I ended up averaging runs between 3-4 miles at a time, as that’s what seems to naturally feel is a good amount of time on my feet. Otherwise? I didn’t push it or try to do a longer session for the sake of getting more miles. I truly listened to my body — and I didn’t end up running more than maybe 5 miles at a time all month!

Take days off
One of the best parts of my time away from the sport was all the time it afforded me to do other things. Unfortunately, a lot of my time was taken up by some stressful tasks related to selling our house and moving — but it was nice to squeeze in extra reading time or an afternoon movie every now and again. Whereas I have one or two scheduled rest days built into most of my plans — I took all of them this month at random. I loved breaking the routine.

Do other physical activities
I also pulled my bike out of storage and dusted off my walking shoes. Just because I didn’t run much last month doesn’t mean I didn’t keep myself moving. I made a point to walk to run errands or stroll after dinner when the sun was setting. I biked my daughter to the park and didn’t mind standing watching her play for hours knowing I didn’t need to save my legs for a long run the next day. I even did some yoga to get an overdue stretch.

Now that I’m getting back into the groove, yes — I can tell I have lost some of my fitness. However, my legs and feet feel pampered, definitely well taken care of. My first timed run after the break was yesterday, when I ended up averaging 7:30/mile pace for a solo 5K. And this morning I ran an easy 10.5 miles with a friend. Though the distance felt mentally taxing, I didn’t have a single ache or pain.

Fervent runners everywhere, let my experience be a lesson: Breaks aren’t only beneficial for the elites. You can take time off and live to tell the tale. I think my running will be better for it. And I’m so ready for this next training season to start.

Do you take a break between races?

Written by Ashley Marcin.