Taking a Week Off Of Running? Here’s Why It’s a Good Idea!
You can take a full week off running with no loss of ground to your cardiovascular fitness. In fact, you could take a couple of weeks off with no ill effects.
It is easy to get yourself so into a groove that you can’t imagine time off. Some runners fail to take a rest day or two each week, much less consider taking a week off from running.
- How often should you take a break from running?
- How long should you go easy after a big race?
- How much rest does your body need each week?
Is It Okay to Take a Week Off From Running?
Absolutely, you can take a full week off of running with no loss of ground to your cardio fitness. You could take a couple of weeks off with no ill effects.
Are you surprised to hear that?
Many runners are.
Most runners do not take enough time off and that leads to injury, soreness, stress fractures, overtraining, burnout, fatigue and a plethora of other potential problems.
The key to injury prevention is to take time off before your body is screaming at you that it is time.
Knowing when to schedule your week off will help you, and then when you implement the rest, it feels like a training plan and not something you are being forced to do.
When Should You Take a Rest Week From Running?
Knowing that everyone’s race and training cycles look just a little bit different, it stands to reason that timing out that week of rest will be different for everyone.
Timing out your rest week to place it at the end of a training cycle will leave the athlete feeling less anxious about time off and more like it is part of your training program.
Let’s look at a marathon training cycle, for example.
A marathon cycle is typically 20 weeks long and you put your body through many miles, different types of workouts, and a lot of training. This cycle culminates with a grueling 26.2 where you test your body to the limits.
What better thought for a physical and mental reset than a week or two weeks off after a half marathon or marathon race is done?
Most running coaches and personal trainers will advise you that you can take a few days off but then should continue to run easy for a week or two more.
In other words, you are doing your body a service when you listen to it.
If you race many shorter distance races such as 5 and 10Ks in the summer and fall, consider taking your rest week after the last race on your calendar.
4 Things Will Happen if You Don’t Run for a Week
Healing: Muscles, bones, and tendons get some time to heal.
Mindset: A week off can rekindle your love of running and give you an improved attitude and mindset.
V02 Max: Sure, you will suffer a loss of V02 max when you take a week of complete rest, but scientists consider that loss to be negligible and easy to regain for those who have been running consistently for any length of time.
Performance Boost: First, you will notice a slight decrease in performance. However, your body will quickly make up for that lost time. Your body will thank you for a rest week with a performance increase once you jump back into your training.
People often ask if they will lose endurance after a week off of running.
If you have established a good running base and take one week off, you won’t notice the difference when you jump back into it.
You are, after all, a cardiovascular beast.
Dangers of Neglecting Rest
Athletes are quick to ask about the loss of performance when they take a full week off running. Asked less often are the dangers involved for athletes who never give their body a full week of rest.
Every time we work out, we damage our muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments, whether on purpose or as a common side effect of pushing our bodies.
Runners often have a recovery period after each race. But there is not much focus on exactly what we are recovering.
A break from running will allow your body to repair any unnoticeable damage that may have been done from an extended period of running, ultimately making you a better runner.
What Is Recovery Week Running, or a “Down Week”?
It is important to note that it is equally as important to work in “down weeks.”
This is not a week of complete rest.
You work in a week of lesser intensity than the weeks prior.
In many training cycles, after 3 weeks of hard training, you might have one week which is just a bit less challenging.
Often referred to as a “step back week” or “down week,” you are still running and working out, it just ratchets the training down a notch or two.
This is another useful tool to create some margin into your workout and keep you healthy, happy, and making great progress.
The recovery week strategically placed in the 4th week after 3 weeks of training will have a reduction in volume of 20-30%.
Ultimately, The Healing Will Improve Your Running!
You will reduce the risk of injury by allowing your body some time to heal; you will also improve your running and run faster, longer, better.
The wear and tear on our muscles and bones do not allow our bodies to perform at their maximal level. If our muscles are not working at 100%, our performance will not be as great as possible.
By giving our bodies the time to heal and fix themselves, we may see improvements in our running in the future.
Taking a running break a couple of times each year is exactly the physical and mental reset your body needs.
But don’t just listen to us, try it and see how your body thanks you.
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