I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. You thought of something when I said this. Maybe that should be your “sign”, if you’re looking for one at least. But this post is going to be about running. Actually, it’s going to be about not running. Which is, to me, the hardest and most important part of running. It’s impossible to do anything forever, right? No, no this isn’t going to tell you to quit running. Hear me out. It’s impossible to do anything forever. We can’t even live forever and that’s our most basic task. It makes sense then that we wouldn’t be able to run forever. Eventually, we’ll need sleep. Eventually, our muscles will tire. We’ll need a full meal, not just energy gels. We will have to stop. Our body needs us to. Otherwise, it’ll collapse because it cannot sustain itself.
And of course we stop! We know that we need to because our body cannot continue forever. It’s a fact that we blissfully accept.
We’re a little less willing to accept that our bodies can’t keep going when it interferes with our running schedule.
If you do any physical activity long enough, you will reach a point where you cannot continue without damaging yourself. You’re no longer recovering enough from what you’re putting your body through and you will need to rest. I’m a firm believer in this. Whether or not you recognize it is a different problem, one I seem to struggle with.
I’m not saying to take a month off, or even a full week off as you’re ramping up your training or working towards a goal. I’m saying, during this period, it’s important to give yourself a rest day or two. And after you meet your goal, run your race, take some time off. Runner’s World (of course) has a phenomenal article about this here, check it out.
Sure, you might lose some of your ability (just a tad) but hopefully, during your break, you aren’t sitting on a couch eating cookies, ice cream, and pasta all day every day. Stick to a healthy diet, maybe lower your distance and run once a week, and cross-train. Try swimming, weightlifting, biking, yoga, you name it! Find what your body needs during your time off and give that to it. You might need more sleep, more protein, more massages, but listen to your body. It wants to talk to you.
Taking a break is good. Sometimes it’s a direct cause of an injury, or a budding injury. I have an angry leg right now and have switched over to biking for a week guilt-free. One week off running won’t kill me (even though sometimes I think it will) but it’ll in fact save me. It’ll keep my body safe and happy, which lets me run more and more. If I wait until an injury, it could be months off instead of one week.
If you decide to take time off keep that in mind when you’re wriggling around on the couch, angry that you aren’t running. You’re doing this as a preventative measure. You’re keeping your future self safe and sound.
And there’s one more thing.
Taking a little break reminds you how much you love it. Sometimes we hit rough patches with our passions and that’s okay! We can truck through the struggle, but we can also take a break and realize how much we miss it. In this case, a break less than a week or around one week is best. That way you don’t fall out of any routines or habits.
Whatever your reasoning, try to give yourself a guilt-free break. Your body will appreciate it. You will appreciate it! Give yourself a break from that path and give that path a break from you. When you come back, you might even see things through rose-colored glasses.