Here’s When You Need To Take A Break From Racing

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It might be time to take a break from racing if your heart and body just aren't in it anymore. Here’s When You Need To Take A Break From Racing

Competing in races can be an obsession. There is nothing like the feeling of crossing a finish line when crushing that PR or knowing that all that training has led up to this amazing moment. After completing a race, we often sign up for another. And another, and another. Runners often fill up their calendars with races, sometimes every weekend. Signing up for so many events is a great way to keep motivated and on track of running goals. But sometimes we just need to take a break from running.

But how do we know when it’s time to hit the brakes?

First of all, this doesn’t mean that we need to stop running altogether. It just might mean that we aren’t participating in every 5k that comes our way.

There are some telltale signs that it’s time to take a break from racing.

Photo by Tom Wheatley on Unsplash.

1. It Seems More Like A Chore Than Fun

We always want to beat our best time for particular distances. So in this sense racing can be serious and competitive. However, at its core, it should still be fun. We should be looking forward to races and enjoying them at the moment. Sure, it can be hard to push ourselves some days. Sometimes it’s just not our race. But when it starts to feel like a chore or something we are dreading, then it’s time to take a break from racing.

2. There Is Too Much Pressure

Sometimes our competitiveness can get in the way of our progress. We can become too obsessed with beating our time and others. The pressure adds up and we are left disappointed when we don’t place in age groups. When the pressure to perform gets too much, it’s time to take a break from racing. Unless the goal is to become a professional athlete in this sport, there should never be pressure on such a large scale. Just finishing the race is enough. Even those who are on track to become pro should learn these signs and scale back when necessary in order for them to master the craft without it being soul-crushing. Just remember that we can’t always be a winner. This is a part of life and of the sport. Our greatest losses can teach us so much and make the greatest wins feel that much better.

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3. An Injury Is Looming

Runners often face some aches that come along with training. But we are talking about some soreness. Anything that is painful or borderline painful should be assessed. Shin splints, for example, can be very painful and the only way to make it through a mile without being in tears is to rest up. The same is true for plantar fasciitis. It can be hard to take a break from racing when we really want to complete the event we were looking forward to. But if injured, it’s best to take the time to rest and recuperate. Running with an injury only derails a runner longer, or makes the injury worst. This means even more time sitting on the bench and not racing.

4. Looking To Run In A New Direction

Some runners have been at it for years. They’ve raced just about every distance and multiple times at that. It could be time to take a break from racing if the runner is looking to take their running in a new direction. This might mean starting a running group and leading new runners on Saturday mornings instead of running a 5k. It could mean coaching a track team and cheering runners at their meets. It might even mean being cheerleader for other friends or family members who race often that the runner never got to see compete. Sometimes racing loses its appeal for those who are done chasing major time goals and instead just want to enjoy a run for being just a run.

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5. The Season Ends

Sometimes taking a break from racing means just a short break. Particularly, this means at the end of a season. Those who are looking for peak performance might race hard for the spring or fall seasons and then decide to take the following season off to give the body a break before going back at it. When the season ends, take about three weeks off. The muscles and tendons have time to repair and heal from the intense training. This can help prevent injury. Runners can still run, but less aggressive and more laid-back when compared to training hard. This is just to stay in shape and keep overall fitness.

6. For A Runner’s Sanity

We take on training plan after training plan, constantly preparing for the next big race. But there comes a time when we need a mental break too, for the sake of our sanity. Sticking to a strict running schedule takes a toll on the body and mind. It’s a lot to always find that motivation, to always push to perform and to always focus on running. That’s where taking that three weeks off every so often comes to play. Not only is it giving the body time to recover, but also the mind. That way the runner can come back refocused and not feeling guilty that they missed out on family events, socializing, and other matters that are important to them too.

7. Heart Isn’t In It Anymore

Racing takes a lot of grit, training, and commitment. When our heart just isn’t it in anymore, it’s time to take a break. But absence makes the heart grow fonder. Races will keep going on, so there is time to get back to the world of racing if the racing bug hits again.


  1. Owen Anderson , Take A Break For Peak Performance, Running Website