A blog by runners. For runners.

It’s OK to skip a run when …

When it is OK to skip a run. There’s something so rewarding about crossing completed runs off on a training plan. You earn a sense of pride, feeling of accomplishment, and reassurance that you’re one step closer to achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you have to skip a planned training run, your feelings will likely be more negative.

But relax! Most training plans are deep and allow for wiggle room (Related: What to do about missed training runs). Sometimes, taking an extra rest day is better for you than completing a scheduled run. The longer break may be just what your body needs so you can push harder during your next workout.

It’s OK to skip a run when …

  • … You’re sick. Everyone knows the “it’s OK to run when you only have symptoms above the neck” rule. But that rule is actually more of a guide. If you really don’t feel well, skip your workout. When you’re under the weather, it’s often better to allow your body to use energy to fight the bug instead of “wasting” energy stores on a run. Let how you feel be your guide. Never run when you have a fever, the flu, chest congestion, pain, or tightness, or a stomach virus.
  • … You’re worn out.When you made your training plan, there was no way to know that you’d wake up on a Wednesday morning in week 8 feeling completely spent. Extreme fatigue is a symptom of overtraining – and a sign you may need to take rest days more often.
  • … You’re really sore.If you dominated your 800m repeats the day before or tried a new workout, like TRX, earlier in the week and are sore beyond sore – like “hurts to walk down the stairs” sore – skip your run and do light cross-training instead.
  • … You have a new pain in your hip/ knee/ ankle, etc.If your IT band feels tight after your 12-miler, if your Achilles feels uncomfortable after hill repeats, or if you feel another dreaded twinge, it could mean an injury is on the horizon. When something feels off, rest is always best. Sitting out a few runs as soon as you notice something amiss can nip an injury in the bud.
  • … You’re training for a comeback race. If you’re training for your first race back from pregnancy, surgery, injury, or illness, go easy on yourself. Your body may not be physically ready to train hard again for many months after major events. So, you may require more rest days than you have during past training rounds.
  • … Life truly gets in the way.Even when we have the best of intentions, 16-hour work days, sick children, and travel delays happen. On some days, there really is no time to run and that’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to skip a few runs due to other commitments. If you think you bit off more than you can chew, though, consider dropping down in your race distance (say from a full to a half marathon) or picking a different race a few months later so you can train when things calm down.

 Written by Jen Matz