Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Taking a Break (You Should Too)

Yesterday, I went for my first run since my half marathon.  That means I went 7 full days without running a single step.  For someone that love running, has identified as being a "runner" for 2/3 of her life, and has a blog named Gretch RUNS- that is a really long time.

During my run, I tried to think of the last time that I took a full week off of running, and I couldn't come up with a date.  I usually recover really quickly from races and feel better if I start to run and move, so I typically only take a day or two off.  For some reason, after the Towpath Half I didn't start back right away.  The break was not really needed (I actually felt great the very next day) and I didn't feel burnt out at all, but I just decided to not run.

I came up with some reasons why taking this break was a great idea on my run (don't we all get the best brainstorming sessions while running?) and wanted to share them with you.  Please leave your top reasons for taking a break in the comments!


Reason #1 - Your body can use a break.
I've mentioned time and time again that this training cycle was the toughest I've ever completed.  Even though I felt great the next day, I still wanted to give my body some time to rest.  That entire week, I slept longer than usual and ate a lot more than I typically do.  I'm not scientist, but I think my body wanted to relax and not have to constantly work every day.

Reason #2 - Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Lately, running has felt more like a chore and less like a hobby for me.  I knew that if I wanted to reach my goal of breaking 2 hours, I had to run X amount of times and X number of miles a week.  After 10 weeks, that can seem like a job which can cause burnout and resentment if I continued.  It was nice to take the time off, but I was definitely missing running by Friday, and by Monday all I was looking forward to was my afternoon run!


Reason #3 - Running takes up a lot of time.
I have to admit that I really liked having an extra hour or two each day that wasn't devoted to running.  I felt like I had so much time and I actually cleaned my apartment, started my sewing e-course, and transitioned all my clothes from summer to fall.  Running, and exercise in general, can be a huge time-suck, so it was nice having a life again!

Reason #4 - You can try other activities.
There were so many times in the last few weeks that I wanted to take a class at the gym or go rock climbing with a friend, but skipped out because of running.  During my week off, I went to the gym a few times and went swimming and didn't have to worry about being sore for my speed workout, or getting hurt before my long run.  It felt great to just do what I wanted and try new classes!

Reason #5 - Celebrate achievements and reflect.
One of my big problems is going from training cycle to training cycle with no rest in between.  This time around, I really wanted to take some time to let my achievement sink in and reflect on my training.  I was able to see exactly what worked, and what I can change for next time.  A week of rest isn't going to hurt my training at all, so it was nice to take a step back and be proud of myself for a bit!


Reason #6 - It's nice to be lazy!
Honestly, part of the reason why I took off a full week was because I was just feeling lazy.  I didn't feel like running, and I decided for once to let myself rest, eat junk food, and drink beer.  Guess what- I'm still here (with slightly tighter jeans) and had a fantastic run yesterday!  I didn't worry about hitting my step goal on FitBit, didn't update my DailyMile account, didn't check my training log on a daily basis and obsess over the weather report.  I slept in, stayed up late, and just relaxed!  It was amazing.




Overall, I used my break to regroup and get back into that running mindset.  I have a race on Sunday (the Pittsburgh 10 Miler- I haven't missed a year yet!) and I'm just going to enjoy the run.  I'm not going to stress about my pace or try to PR- if I feel great I'll go faster but I already PR'ed this month and I'm fine with taking it easy.  I'm excited!

Have you taken a running break?
What are your top reasons to rest - either for running or another activity?
Are you doing any other races this year?
linking up with Tuesdays on the Run

44 comments:

  1. I haven't taken a break for a week but they do say, especially after a race, that it is great for you for all of the reasons you listed. Maybe after my next half, whenever that is, I will do the one week break.

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    1. It's nice taking a break! This was my first time and it was amazing :)

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  2. I have read quite a few exercise science articles that say you should take 1-2 week off a year from all moderate to intense activity... even professionals take time off and that's their job! I try to take a week or two off every year after a big race and let my body heal and relax :) Glad you let yourself rest and enjoyed your time off!

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    1. I probably should have done some more research! That would be interesting to see what some professionals say about this topic. Maybe I'll have to write a follow up post!

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    2. Would love to see a post- I haven't done too much research but the articles I read definitely stuck with me!

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  3. I'm just starting a break from running. My legs are 100% dead from the marathon and I can't imagine trying to run right now. Since I took two weeks off right before the race I am kind of eager to get back into running, but I know I need to respect the recovery process. The plan I was following includes a 5 week return to running plan that I will probably use to get back into running, but I don't plan on starting it right away. I am hoping to take just 1-2 weeks off, but if my body needs more time, than I will take more time.

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    1. You definitely deserve a break! I know it's been a rough couple of weeks for you, so take that break and come back better than ever :) That's really smart to follow a reverse taper plan! Good luck Heather!

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  4. How do you happen to look so cute and smiley in all of your race pictures??! That's not fair. Although I'm not a runner I do take time off from working out when I travel. It definitely makes me miss my workouts and I do tend to have more enthusiasm for them when I get back because I had a chance to miss them!

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    1. Hee hee thanks!! I usually have to fake a happy face but this race I just felt amazing and couldn't help smile! Good to hear that this transfers over to other activities and not just running!

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  5. I'm coming off my recovery break after a lot of running leading up to my 5k. The last time I took a break was in early August when I was on vacation. Even though my body felt OK, I knew it was a good idea to take a step back and relax a little bit. I want to build in rest weeks as I move forward in training.

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    1. It's always a great idea to build in those rest periods! Good thought Lesley :)

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  6. I've only taken a break from running when injury has caused me too. But after NYC I am planning on taking at least a full week off of exercise, and probably 2 weeks off of running. I have been in a somewhat consistent training cycle since June 2014 so I think it's about time for a rest!

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    1. You will definitely deserve that break after the marathon! You work so hard! I hope you have big plans (of doing nothing) for those two weeks :)

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  7. YES! I can not agree more. My body was clearly tired because I've been sleeping for 10-11 hours a night lately, eating more, and enjoying the time off. I've NEVER taken a week like last week and this week I'm slowly easing my way back in with light workouts. I am embracing my time off and I'm glad you are too!

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    1. I thought you would relate to this post! It was nice to relax for a week :)

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  8. I am completely in favor of taking time of to recover after a race. It's so much better to choose when you take the break instead of being forced to by injury. The hardest thing for me is learning when to take a break because my body needs it to prevent injury and when I just need a mental break. Great job on your race!

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    1. That's a great thought- choose the break before the break chooses you :) Thank you Sam!

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  9. Great post! I'm right there with you for many of the same reasons. Usually I can't wait to start running again, but this time I'm looking forward to a week of doing nothing! I once read that all professional athletes have an off season, so why wouldn't runners like us do the same? One reason I'll add is that my husband, cats & dog have missed me when I spent so much time training & want me back!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! I hope you enjoy your week (or more) off is great and relaxing. After your tough cycle you definitely deserve it. I think Dan likes a little break from me though ;)

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  10. If I ever take a running break it's because I'm injured. There was only one time that I actually purposely took a running break and I used it as a month of self-reflection. I dug deep into the workings of my mind and heart to make sure I was running for the right reasons. But other than that, I only ease up on my runs during injuries and thankfully, those are rare. I run the very next day after races, even full marathons. It feels better for me to keep my legs moving!

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    1. That's great that that works for you! I know you use that as your therapy and a bit of time alone with your thoughts, so I don't blame you. Whatever works for you!!

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  11. Great post, that I can totally relate to. I think it's good to have a decent rest, even though you will pretty soon wish you can get back out there and run. Running takes up a LOT of time, so it's good to clear your head a bit before the next round of training begins! I took a short break in the summer and I think it did its job!

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    1. I'm glad you can relate to this Janelle! Taking a rest helped me a lot :)

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  12. love #6, its nice to be lazy. sometimes you mind just needs time to empty and get back to square one.

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    1. That's completely right..running is just as mental as physical and our mind needs a rest too!

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  13. I agree that it's important to take a break sometimes. I think our bodies appreciate it, plus it allows us to mentally regroup and gear up for the next big thing!

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    1. Great point Lisa! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. I'm in a running break now and I'm really enjoying it! I am giving myself six days off, since I'm racing on Sunday (doh!). It is giving me time to finish (cough start cough) my costume for Disney!

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    1. If anyone deserves a break it's you! Two PR's in a row..and an unplanned half marathon...yes you deserve a break :) I'll be racing right with you on Sunday!! Good luck with the costume!

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  15. love it! i probably love - and use - #6 a bit too often hahaha. but for reals, i used to run every single day and i just burned out, so i just run when i feel like it now. sometimes it's every day, other times it's a week or two off. i like listening to my body. and of course, being lazy.

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    1. We all deserve to be lazy occasionally :) I can understand getting burnt out, so no need to push yourself to always run. Good on you for listening to your body!

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  16. This can be applied to other activities too, don't you think? :) It's so nice and refreshing to take a break from things sometimes.

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    1. Definitely! I have to admit to following some of these in regards to blogging and other areas of my life that have nothing to do with fitness. Thank goodness for vacation days at work!

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  17. I totally agree with all your reasons. Unfortunately when you're injured, it's much less fun to take a break! Haha. Good job on your race and taking some time off. :)

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    1. :( Stinks when you're forced to take a break! Thank you Rachel!

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  18. Good for you! I agree with all of your reasons. Up until now, I don't think I'd taken a whole week off in over 3 years. Maybe 5 days a couple of times. And here I am, on a forced injury break. I think there may be a lesson to learn...

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    1. I hope you're back in no time, and maybe take more breaks in the future before you're forced to! We can all definitely learn from mistakes!

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  19. Took the words right out of my mouth :) I'm on a forced injury break now but I agree with everything you said.

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    1. BOO!! That is another big reason why I wanted to take a break...all of the injuries I've been reading about have scared me and made me want to protect myself more!

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  20. Just took a week break after a half marathon and getting back to it felt so much better when I gave my body (and mind) time to break!

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    1. Good choice Georgie! A fresh and clean slate always feels great :)

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  21. I've been off for the last two days, but I think I am going to take a long break after my marathon in December! It'll be perfect timing because I don't love running in the cold and I'll enjoy the holidays. You're running pictures are great I need to take some pointers!

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    1. Same here with running in the cold..when the windchill is below 0 and there's ice everywhere...no thanks.

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  22. I'm so bad about taking breaks when I need to! I just finished a half Ironman last Saturday and was really planning to wait a week or so to run again, but it's been driving me crazy not to so I caved and went out for a few miles tonight. I've definitely been eating and sleeping a lot more than usual! I might not take a full break, but I do plan to take it easy for the next week or two.

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