5 Signs It’s Time to Take a Week Off Running
Running is a sport focused on dedication, gumption, and endurance. It’s about pushing yourself past your conceived notion of your ‘limit’ and increasing your confidence right alongside your physicality. These definitions and understanding of running, however, are what leads people to sometimes ignore or downplay the obvious and push their passion at times when it should not be pushed, but rather, put aside for a short while so another important aspect of life can be focused upon. Some runners may hate to read this, but there are times when taking a week off from running is the right decision.
Show me a runner without an ache or pain somewhere on her body on any given day, and I’ll show you a leprechaun pro basketball player. Challenging your body to run on a regular basis is hard on it and requires a sometimes-elaborate upkeep schedule (think: ice bathes, yoga, physical therapy, etc.). A vital difference runners must learn to recognize, however, is that between these normal lower-key and temporary sorenesses and a real injury. Even though sore muscles can involve sharp pains and alter our gait, it should only be for a day or two and get better each day. A real injury, however, stays stagnant at best or, more likely, gets worse with time if not treated. If it’s been more than a week with the same—or increasing pain—it’s time to stop running until you’ve been to a doctor. Injuries are not something to ‘run through’, as ignoring them will almost always get you sidelined.
When you’re more than simply unmotivated, but you’re actually in the red on motivation. As in, you’re DREADING your runs and have no more energy when you finish than when you started. That’s not how’s it’s supposed to be! Although it’s normal to sometimes feel tempted to skip a run simply because you’re tired, you should still be able to get yourself out the door knowing that at the end you’ll feel somewhat invigorated and happy you decided to do it. If you’re feeling worse by the end, or even regretting that you went, then something else is going on. Take the time to address the other problem or weight in your life that is clearly wearing on you.
You’re really sick
Sometimes when you’re sick, like in the case of a cold, running can help you feel better by providing a short respite from a snuffy nose or just a chance to get out of the stale air that seems to settle around us when we’re sick. However, for things like the flu, it’s NOT a good idea to head out and try to ‘run it off’—you’ll just end up leaving your guys on the sidewalk and prolonging the illness and your own misery.
You’re celebrating a victory
Whether you ran your first 10K, marathon, or 100-miler, take some times after accomplishing your goal to appreciate what you just did. It’s huge! You also just exerted your body much harder than usual. Be sure to give it time to recover, keeping in mind that ‘taking a week off running’ can still include other forms of exercise, and it doesn’t mean you have to live off ice cream and donuts. We can’t always meet our big goals in life, so be sure to take the time to celebrate and fully appreciate those accomplishments when you do.
Your family needs you
Life happens, and you have responsibilities in it other than running. If your child is sick and needs you around, it’s okay to skip your runs and be there for random hugs, cuddles, clean-up crew, sheet changing, soup-making, and pillow fluffing. If your partner is facing a huge challenge in life (depression, death of a loved one, illness, etc.) they need you around and available. Perhaps your sister is getting married and decided to have a destination wedding; with travel and wedding prep, there just honestly isn’t time for a run. That’s okay. Hopefully, your sister only gets married once, so you should be there to support her and celebrate fully. Family is more important. Period.
Running is a beautiful gift to yourself; it can provide a healthier body, mind, and attitude. Just like all great things, however, there are times when it’s appropriate and necessary to step away and take a little time off. Please be kind to yourself and allow rest when needed so you can continue reaping maximum benefits from running.
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