When should you take a break from running? I do think it does a body good once in a while. Any repetitive activity leaves you open to injury. Switching it up and giving your body a break is one way to stay injury free.
Pay attention to your RHR (resting heart rate)
The line between pushing yourself and injuring yourself or burning out is so thin it’s almost invisible. This decision was easy for me, because I made it a while ago. Better to be proactive than reactive — I always tell Mr. Judy that about walking the dogs!
When it came time to actually take that break, I had already noticed an upward tick in my RHR. As far as I can deduce, Garmin averages your RHR throughout the day. So sometimes it will autocorrect the lower value a day or two later for me, when I’ve synced that day. That just means that much like a false positive test, sometimes a high RHR turns out to be a bit lower.
In my case, even allowing for time, there was a steady uptick. I actually started my running break a few days earlier than I’d planned to. I felt okay, but my body seemed to be indicating that I wasn’t recovering well. I am not a slave to data — but it’s one hint when something is coming off the rails.
In normal times, if I’d been training for a race or racing a lot as I often do in the Fall, I might have just pushed through it. Sometimes not having running goals can actually be a good thing!
What I gained
I gained time. Running is time consuming. Making sure I fuel right, have my outfit laid out, making sure I have hydration, foam rolling, pre- and post-stretching: it all adds up. I used that time to walk more. Fall is the perfect time in the Northeast to explore and get out in nature.
Walking more allowed me to slow down. Slowing down allowed me to be more observant to everything around me. We see more on the run than we do driving in a car, right? You also see a lot more walking than you do running.
My RHR came back down into its normal range.
You may be able to run hard and many miles without taking breaks. As I wrote in You are an experiment of 1 here, every body is different. As I’ve so often mentioned, even elites take breaks from running. Sometimes long breaks. Yes, running is their job — but they are still wise enough to know that recovery is also their job.
Recovery may not be our job, but being kind to our body is.
Still struggling with whether or not it’s time for a break? Check out Embrace the Taper here for a list of my many posts on rest and recovery.
Are you afraid of losing running fitness if you stop running?
When was the last time you voluntarily took a break from running?
When was the last time you were forced to take a break from running due to illness or injury?