Monday, April 23, 2018

Why Taking Time Off is Important For Runners

Every year my running routine is about the same. I run hard from spring until fall and then I start to taper off and take winter as a recovery/cross training season. I still run in the winter, just not normally as much as I do the rest of the year.  This year was different. This year I spent the winter running harder than I had all year long. I had decided I wanted to run a 10k and I went at that goal head-on.

While I don't regret running through the winter, I do regret running that hard through the winter. I wish I would have taken the time, like I normally do, to let my body recover and rest and just focus on staying in shape with cross training and casual running. I could have picked my training back up in the early spring and I would have been completely ready for a 10k in the early racing season. But I didn't. And so, instead of training, I've been doing lots of work to get my knee better. I am just coming back from that now.



I used to think that every elite runner out there never took time off. I always thought that the ones who were pros, the best, the winners, always worked hard all of the time. But even Professional athletes take longer breaks during offseason. Des Linden, the winner of this year's Boston Marathon, had a five-month break from running right before training and winning the marathon.

Taking a break doesn't always mean that you stop working out altogether. For the most part, you're cross training, going to the gym when you feel like it, and continuing with casual running. You're not following a set program. You're just listening to your body and what it needs or wants to be doing.

Getting stronger and fitter doesn't happen when you're actually exercising like most people think, that is the part where our bodies are realizing that they need to be stronger because we are breaking down our muscles and releasing hormones that are telling our body that it needs to be more fit. The getting stronger part comes when we are refueling and getting rest for our bodies to recover. So even though we've heard it a thousand times that rest and recovery are really important and we still have a hard time taking time off, now you'll be able to remind yourself with one more reason: resting actually helps you become stronger.



Another way to think of it is considering it as a bank account. All the work you're doing, miles you're running, the weight you are lifting, all of that goes into your spending account. And then the rest period, the time you spend allowing your body to recover, the food you're fueling your body with all goes into a savings account.  When you can make the two work together, and get into a really good rhythm with it, you'll be able to have enough in your savings account to push yourself harder, faster, or further the next season.  But if you don't make sure your savings (rest) account is full, you're going to get injured easier, and burned out faster.

So when offseason comes, look at it as a time to fill up that rest and recovery savings account.  Doing this will help you come back next season rested and ready to push yourself even harder without as much risk of injury.  You'll be able to make bigger gains and meet more of your goals.

When is your offseason?

How long are your regular breaks?





14 comments:

  1. My breaks are usually during the winter, or after a race. Or if I'm dumb and ran too much and injured myself! :(

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  2. We are the same! Those are when I take my breaks too! I hope you’re enjoying some warm running weather now though!

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  3. I love my off-season so much I gave it a name. Winter is known as my "runbattical". Rest and recovery are so key.

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    1. That’s awesome! Good for you. Yes yes! It is so much more important that people realize

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  4. I really do not take an off season per say much to the dismay of my trainer. I know I need to though

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    1. I always had a hard time with this too and I think my coach would have been much happier with me if I had listened haha

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  5. I usually take many breaks. I also don't run as much in the winter because I hate winter. ;)

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    1. I hate winter too! Thank heaven it’s warm now. I hope you are having nice warm running weather too.

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  6. A few years ago, I met Meb and Sarah Crouch. Both of them said that after a race, they take off 2 weeks and do nothing. Nothing! I love to hear that. I don't take off much time because I don't race as hard as they do. But I do cut back in the winter.

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    1. I love that! I’m the same way though. I don’t take that much time off but I do love the idea of taking time off to do nothing.

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  7. I usually take a week off running after a marathon and 1-2 days after a half marathon. I do find that taking a week is great because it allows me to focus on other things like strength training, etc

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    1. I make sure I get rest days here and there but I’m not great at taking weeks off after races

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  8. I usually designate January as my off-season. I don't sit idle, but I do scale back the running quite a bit and focus on other cross training instead.

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  9. I’m really bad at taking time off - but I’m trying to take this month to relax a bit

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