Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Runners Should Take a Break From Race Training

Around this time of year, I start to taper off on training for races.  A lot of runners love to race this time of year! There are so many races to choose from this time of year, and the temps are cooler. But by this time of year, my body needs a little break. I start to burn out mentally, and I'm more prone to injury. So I take a little step back.  I still run but I'm much more lenient about how many times a week I run and following a schedule.

Race training keeps me focused on a specific goal, it helps me stay motivated and keeps me getting out the door when I don't feel like it. It gives me a something to work towards. But not having something gives me a reason to relax and not worry about how many miles I'm running in a week or how fast I'm going.

Taking a break from running makes running fun in a different way. Racing is exciting and fun and, let's be honest, a little bit addicting. When you run without a training plan it helps running feel more relaxed. There's absolutely no pressure when you take a break from racing.

Running without training for a race is more flexible. You don't have a plan to stick to and you can do whatever you feel like doing that day. You can add in whatever strength training or other cross training you want. In fact, this is a great time to add some cross-training into your routine. It's a great time to explore different workouts or sports you think you'll love.

Sometimes when you feel like cutting a run short or adding an extra rest day to your week instead of going on a run you don't have to worry about missing a day. You're no longer running for anything except for yourself.  While having a race gives you drive to push harder and go longer, sometimes it's smartest/best to give yourself a break from that to enjoy slow easy runs more than harder runs. For me, it helps me remember why I run and what I love getting from running the most. I love that I can do what I want, go as long or slow I want, take my time and enjoy it. It helps me gain the mental benefits from running as well as all the physical benefits. It helps my mind calm down and function more clearly because there is absolutely no stress involved.

What it really comes down to is that I think when you take a break from training for a race just helps you to use running for the emotional, fun, comforting side of it that we all love about it.  It gets you back to the basics of running. Taking a break from races gives you the breaks that your body needs to recover. Every runner should find some time to take a break from races. Not necessarily from running, but from race training.

If you're ready to take a break from racing, here are a few things to do to make sure you get the break that you need but also stay in shape:

  • Don't quit running, just step back from the intensity that you usually give. Slow your pace, take extra days off, or lower your mileage in a week.
  • Cross Training is a great way to stay in shape and strengthen your muscles that can even help you be a better runner next time you pick up the racing.
  • If you need a race to keep you motivated, sign up for one in the future. I usually take my racing break from late fall to springtime. 

When do you usually stop racing for the year?

What is your favorite way to cross-train?

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