Benefiting From a Break: Creating Sustainability in your Running

Good Content from: Sarah Canney, Trail Running Expert

Have you ever eased back on your running? I’m not talking about a break forced by injury or the week you took off after the marathon. I am talking about deliberate rest built into your training schedule, that is anywhere from two to four weeks in duration. A time when you rest a little more, run a little less and shift your focus.

For a lot of runners the thought of taking a break is paralyzing.

What if I lose fitness?

What if I gain weight?

Deliberate time off from running is a great way to give your body and mind a break and in the long run, it can actually set you up for better performances down the road. The best time for an off-season really depends on your goal races, but it’s best to add a few down weeks between big training cycles and for many runners that’s during the winter months when the days are short and the temps are cold.

Mental and Physical Break

If you’ve spent the fall training and racing, chances are your mind and body need a break. Block off two weeks on your calendar to scale back on the mileage, add in an extra rest day or change the intensity of runs. Without a deliberate break, burnout and overtraining can be real issues you may have to contend with down the road. The off season is the perfect opportunity to try new activities to engage yourself in new ways mentally and physically. Take a new class, go for a hike, get out on the bike, try cross country skiing or take your run off-road by trying trail running or snowshoe running. The Mad River is the perfect crossover shoe that provides the comfort of a road shoe with traction for the trail. Find a way to get outside and move your body in a new way.

Avoid Injury

Taking an extended break from running allows your body to repair areas of chronic tightness that could potentially become injuries. Spend the time you would normally be running, hitting the weights at the gym. Focus on moves that increase power, like deadlifts and squats. In addition, work on balance and stability with single leg and lateral movements. The combination or rest from running and increased strength training is a great way to avoid injury in-season, when training and critical races are in play.

Focus on Recovery

If you’re like most people you are busy and if you’re training for a goal race, the little things like stretching, foam rolling and sleep often gets squeezed out. As you cut back on your running duration and intensity, consider replacing that time with self-massage, dynamic stretching and maintenance work.

Photography: Raya on Assignment