Is it Okay to Take a Break?

What’s Included?

  • Reasons you might take a break
  • What happens after… 1 missed day? Several? A week? More?
  • How to restart & rebuild after a break

Why Might You Take A Break?

There are SO many reasons that a runner might have to or choose to take a break from running. These reasons might include…

You’re on vacation

You have a work trip or need to travel unexpectedly

You have other priorities that need to come first

You’re sick or not feeling well

Low Motivation

There are no right or wrong ways to go about your running journey, and YOU know your needs & goals best – so sometimes a break might be necessary and beneficial. But as runners, many of us find ourselves wondering and worrying about losing our progress during that break – especially after a big race. So, how long does it truly take for you to start losing fitness or progress?


What Happens After…?

1-5 DAYS?

Absolutely nothing! In fact, you might even have some POSITIVE impacts from taking a little extra rest. A break of this length could allow your muscles extra time to recover while having virtually no impact on your cardio endurance. This break will allow your body some time to make gains from the training you’ve been doing & might be the type of mental break you needed. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is the case for an isolated break for a runner who is training consistently otherwise – continual breaks of 1-5 days repeatedly will begin to add up & make an impact on your cardio over time.

5-10 DAYS?

There’s still not too much to worry about here cardio-wise – especially if you’re someone who’s been training consistently for more than a few months. For newer or runners who may be running lower mileage or less consistently, you may start to feel a small dip in fitness – but it’s still nothing that you can’t regain quickly once you resume your normal running routine. Muscular system wise, you might start to feel a little “rusty” when you resume running – this is just because your muscle power and quickness begins to decline slightly, but again, it’s nothing that you need to be overly concerned about. You should be back to normal after just a few workouts!

2 WEEKS?

2 weeks seems to be the point in which both the cardio system and the muscular system see some noticeable dips in performance. After two weeks, your VO2 will take about a 5% dip – causing you to get to that point of exhaustion a bit faster than before. In addition, you might lose some muscle strength and coordination after 14 days. It’s important to remember that these are still small impacts & you can regain both quickly once you get back into your routine!

A MONTH?

After taking a month off, you’re likely to see about 10-20% reduction in your VO2 max level depending upon your experience level & fitness level prior to the break (the more consistent you were running, the slower you will lose fitness). You will likely see the biggest impact when attempting to do speed work or harder effort workouts – this is because your body has lost some of its efficiency at using fats and oxygen to fuel our workouts. Muscular system wise, you will also see some loss in strength which means you’ll need to be more careful when restarting as to avoid injury.

SEVERAL MONTHS?

After taking a month off, you’re likely to see about 10-20% reduction in your VO2 max level depending upon your experience level & fitness level prior to the break (the more consistent you were running, the slower you will lose fitness). You will likely see the biggest impact when attempting to do speed work or harder effort workouts – this is because your body has lost some of its efficiency at using fats and oxygen to fuel our workouts. Muscular system wise, you will also see some loss in strength which means you’ll need to be more careful when restarting as to avoid injury.


How to Restart and Rebuild

If you’re re-entering running after a break, it’s important to keep a strong mindset. Sometimes, the biggest hit can be to our emotional, mental, and motivational side – so try to stay positive. Here are a few tips for jumping back in after a break:

1.) Start Slow

Slow miles are KEY to rebuilding that base level of fitness without putting too much stress on your muscular system

2.) Cross Train

Cross-training can be a great way to quickly rebuild your strength and fitness level without too much stress on your body

3.) Listen to Your Body

You know your body best! If you’re returning to running after an injury, it’s important to watch carefully for any potential weaknesses, tightness, or breaks that you might need as you get started again.

4.) IT’S OKAY TO WALK!

Don’t forget that. If you need to take a walk break, that’s okay! Every step you take gets you closer to where you want to go.

5.) Don’t Skip the Warm-ups

Make sure you’re getting ample warm-up and cool-down time in so you can prepare your muscles before you begin.


Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach

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