Sometimes we fall out of love with running. Other times we still have all the feels for it, but we still might benefit from taking a break to keep everything fresh. Burnout is a real and serious thing, and you want to avoid it. Not only that, but our bodies need a variety that running exclusively does not give us. Here are seven reasons you should give up running once in a while so you can stay healthy and keep loving it.
1. Body rest –
When we set lofty goals for ourselves, wonderful things happen. We accomplish a lot. But sometimes we can stop thinking about self-care and just see all of the amazing things we want to do.
That happens with runners – we have a whole bunch of cool races we want to do. We fill up our year with training and races and don’t leave a lot of time for rest and renewal. Our bodies don’t function as well if we are neglecting rest and downtime.
That being said, downtime doesn’t mean laying on the couch; it just means that we aren’t working the exact same muscle groups to failure, burnout, or injury.
2. Mind rest –
Burnout. It can be caused by working our bodies past the state of exhaustion, but it can also occur to our brains. I know that running for me is a good way to release anxiety and stress. But it can also add a lot of undue stress if I’m worried about performing well during a race.
Take it easy on yourself once in a while and remove some unnecessary pressure when life is overwhelming. If work has been overly busy, if you have projects that need extra time, if your kids need more of your attention – take a break from the long hours of running and see to the rest of your life. Removing one stressor can help alleviate stress from other areas of your life.
3. Variety –
As I mentioned above, our muscles need variety. I totally get it – all you want to do is run. You don’t want to do burpees or lunges. You have no desire to work your upper body. All that strength training and cross training takes time away from getting your miles in. I completely understand.
But you will be a better, less injured, happier, stronger runner if you do get the strength and cross training done. Having strong supporting muscles will get you over those hills and through those miles easier. It will help prevent injuries by having a strong core and amazing glutes.
You don’t have to stop running to do this; just replace a run or two a week with some intense strength or cross training. Ride your bike on your rest day. Do P90X, T25, or hot yoga in place of an easy run day. Your muscles will show you how appreciative they are.
4. Muscle Health –
As stated under “Variety,” working the muscle groups that don’t get used much during a run will help you become a stronger runner. While you can run without activated glute muscles, they will make you pay later with an injury. Do those squats and lunges. Make sure you have a strong butt to power your leg turnover and speed.
Your muscles work together as a unit; don’t neglect any of them.
Upper body strength is important to maintain good form while running – especially when you are tired. Lift weights, do pull-ups and pushups.
Core strength is also great for keeping good running form. But it doesn’t stop there. It helps support your hips and glutes. Neglect your core and you are bound to have leg, hip, or back injuries down the road.
5. Injury Prevention –
Running without a break (and without taking care of rest and supporting muscles) will lead to an injury eventually. Our bodies need time to recuperate between intense or prolonged exercise.
If you are feeling overly tired – or if you wake up with sore muscles more days than not – it’s time to replace some of your runs with either full-on rest days (with Epsom salt soaks and foam rolling sessions), or with some restorative yoga sessions.
Focus on healing the damage you’ve done to your muscles. You don’t have to halt all running, but do take it easy for a while and add in some rehabilitation work before you end up with a stress fracture or muscle tear.
6. Appreciation –
Sometimes I find myself tired of running, especially if I’ve been in a long training cycle. It feels like going outside to do a run is the absolute last thing I want to do. I hate that feeling. I run because I love it and it makes me feel good. When I start hating the thought of going for a run, I know I need to take a break.
If you start feeling this way during a training cycle, the feeling might pass. It’s part of the process. You are training for a reason and you have that goal within reach. I’m not advocating not running during this time. It may be that you need an extra rest day that week to make you feel better. Or maybe just a nap.
What I am promoting is if after your race, you still feel like running is a chore, it would be a great time to take a break from running. It might be a good idea to take a breather before your next training cycle or race.
7. Your Loved Ones
If you live with your significant other – maybe you have kids – those people could use a break from your running once in a while too.
Perhaps your partner would enjoy a quiet night in with a good dinner and a movie. Or maybe a night out. Perhaps your kids would like you to help them with their homework, or play that board game with them.
Once in a while, focusing on spending time with your family instead of on the road is a good thing. I know that many people try not to disrupt their family schedule by running in the morning before anyone is up, or during your lunch hour. Even if this is true, when we are training hard, our energy levels during the rest of our life can suffer.
Taking a break from running can make you more available and present to your loved ones.
Hopefully, you are giving yourself time off to rest and recover – or work those non-running muscles by taking a break from running once in a while.
I wish each of you successful training and rest cycles. And may you run injury free!