Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why Taking a Break is Important and How to Stay Sane During a Break

One of the hardest things for me during my rest periods is patience and self-control. Rest days and "off seasons" are good for our bodies but it's not the easiest thing to commit to. I have struggled with this for the last little while as I'm going into my offseason. Especially since I took so long off after my half thanks to injury. But taking things easy and focusing on strength instead of so much running is still important for me right now.

Taking some time off or, at least, taking some time to cross train or taper down for a while is necessary for our bodies to be able to recover and heal from all the stuff we've put our muscles through during race season. Even if it's hard because we don't want to lose what we've worked for, and we want all those endorphins to keep coming, and we really loved to run. Whether you're taking time off after a race, due to injury, or just because you're like me and take the winter months easier, the time we take to rest up a little bit does awesome things for our bodies.

It's been hard for me lately to keep my runs easy and not start looking for something else to train for yet. My body isn't ready for it. My IT band still feels tight and sometimes even hurts a little once in a while. So I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be offseason. Running doesn't have to happen every day or even every workout. And when I do run I shouldn't be pushing myself as hard as I do when I'm race training. As much as I'd love to race and train for races year around, my body doesn't respond well to that. I need some time for other things. And I'd be willing to bet that there are many of you that need that offseason too.

Because being patient with yourself during your breaks, and not jumping right back into your training race after race, is hard to do, I wanted to share some ways that you can stay sane during your offseason.

Taking a break from training doesn't mean that you have to stop running altogether (unless, of course, you're injured and your dr told you to stop running. Then that's exactly what it means). Taking a break from training means that you take a break from training for races and a break from racing. Running is still an option in this case. Just don't run as hard or as much as you do while you're race training.

A huge part of getting to be a better runner is strength training. Having a strong core and upper body helps with running more than most people know. While I'm on my offseason for running, I still run once in a while, but I focus more on strength training than running.

Cross training is a fun way to keep you active and moving. It helps you keep those endorphins going. It uses those muscles in a different way, and it helps strengthen your muscles because you're using them in a different way. Run when you feel like running, but cross-train more than you normally do to replace some of your runs. I love to do strength training, pump classes, Tabata, HIIT workouts... There are so many options you can choose from when it comes to cross-training.

Make a new goal. A lot of running and training is making and accomplishing goals. When it comes to winter and my training slows down, I try to give myself another fitness goal that isn't solely focused on running. It's usually something to do with gaining muscle in my upper body since that's where it's lacking.  I make a goal and work towards it until I'm ready to start running more seriously again.

If you can't run at all, turn to a different hobby. Winter is a hard time to run anyway because either I run when it's cold and slick outside or I run on the treadmill neither of which I really enjoy quite as much as running in the warm-ish weather.  So while I still try to workout during these months, I also turn to some of my other hobbies like quilting, sewing, photography, baking....again, there's a lot you can choose from.

Just remember that this isn't going to last forever. When I am running and I start to feel the urge to start into some kind of training or when I've been told to take time off from running altogether, I try to remind myself that there will be a time when I get to run hard again. There will be a time when I get to train for and run a race. And if I take the breaks now, I can come back better and stronger and faster than I was before.

When was the last time you took a break from training?

What's your favorite way to cross train?

When you take a break, how long does it normally last?


  1. This is something I definitely struggle with. We can really put a lot of pressure on ourselves and it often ends up having negative effects. We all need to take a break sometimes

  2. I totally agree with this! It's very important to take a break, I actually think it's more important to do this for mental health too.

  3. I have been running this year and have done a few races but have not specifically been training for anything in particular. So I guess you could call this a long break for me. I have added in Crossfit and now spinning. I hope to start planning for and training for some races soon though!

    1. That's kind of how my year went this year too. I'm hoping to get more racing in next year but we will see how it goes. I hope you get to do some races soon!

  4. I always take an of-season over the winter. I still run regularly, but my runs aren't very long nor are they very fast. Cross-training is SO important! I do a lot of power walking, stair-climbing, strength work and LOTS of planking/burpees/push-ups.

  5. I don't really have an off-season. I take a break during the last big race and the next training cycle which is something like mid-November until Jan. I still run, just not long distances and maybe only 2 x a week. I've been cross-training forever now as well. I enjoy it and I try new classes or new home workouts to have some variation. But I've been going to spinning and bodypump for a while now so that I don't run more than 3 or 4 times a week but am still able to make a half marathon distance if I suddenly feel like doing that. I'm not fast, I"m like a diesel engine.

    I don't take long breaks simply because I move to keep depression at bay.