Runner’s Guide to Takin’ It Easy: When to Rest

Woman upside down on pole

Pole dancing gives me a break from running.

Runners are creatures of habit when it comes to training, and switching up your schedule to take a rest day may not be on your to-do list. Whether you’ve set your sights on the perfect marathon training plan or you are determined to burn off that chocolate mousse you ate, if you’re coming up with endless excuses to run through pain or injury, it’s time to stop and check yourself. Sure, you may get in your miles for a day or even a few more days, but ultimately you’ll end up being forced to take much more rest, with a serious injury or extreme burnout.

Here are some signs to watch out for that mean it’s time to take a break from pounding the pavement:

• Pain that does not go away with R.I.C.E. treatment. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation and is the basic protocol for treating common sports injuries. If you have shin pain, knee pain, foot pain or any other sort of pain that doesn’t subside with R.I.C.E. treatment strategies, it is time to rest.

• If your pain continues when you are no longer running, you need to rest. If you feel pain sitting at your desk, watching T.V. or doing everyday things, it is time for a break from running.

• Feeling mentally exhausted from running. There’s a difference between burnout and just needing to mix up your running routine. If you’ve tried new running routes, different races and other changes in your running routine but you still dread your daily runs, it is time to take a break.

Woman walking dog

I enjoy spending time with my dog on rest days.

You can keep up your cardio fitness by doing cross training activities like cycling, swimming, kickboxing, pole dancing or anything your heart desires. Taking a break from running will help you return with renewed energy and enthusiasm and prevent you from hating your runs. Each runner has a different exhaustion point. I find that I usually have one or two periods of greatly reducing my running a year so I can have a mental break and try other activities, or just enjoy a vacation.

• You just ran a taxing race. If you ran a marathon, your body will need time to heal and rebuild. Even for shorter races, you will need time to recover with rest. The general rule of thumb is to take one rest day or easy day for every mile you raced.

*Note: If you experience sharp or lasting pain that does not go away with rest and R.I.C.E., see your doctor or a physical therapist for treatment.

Related Posts: Exercises to Prevent Running Injuries, Runner’s Guide to Injury Prevention and Treatment, Pole Dancing for Runners, Running Motivation: Mix Up Your Routine

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