The reason many people love to run is understandable. It benefits your heart, lungs and muscles. There's a rush of adrenalin -- hormones that prepare the body for physical action -- and a release of endorphins -- the body's natural pain killers. However, problems can arise if rest intervals are not built into your running program. Aside from your weekly rest days, at least twice a year you should take a break from running for one full week.
Even when considering the benefits of running, physical activity can take a toll on your body. The constant impact of your feet striking the ground can be especially hard on the knees, shins, back, feet and ankles. A week's break from running, every few months, allows the body time to recuperate.
Taking a week off from running does not necessarily imply that you must stop all physical activity altogether. Cross-training, which means engaging in different activities, will help to develop muscles that are generally neglected through running and will help improve your running capacity. Weight training can also be used as an effective means of building muscle and improving your running ability.
Another reason to incorporate a break into your running routine is to alleviate boredom. On occasion you may feel unmotivated or uninspired to run. This could be a result of over-training or fatigue and, just as you need the weekend to rest from the work week, the same is true with physical activity. It's beneficial to change things around every so often.
A concern of taking a week off from running is that you may lose the fitness results you have obtained from your program. The losses you feel are negligible, whereas the benefits could be significant. If you have sustained an injury that requires bed rest, the losses you incur may be as much as 10 percent, but that is a worst-case scenario. Depending on how long you have been training and your fitness level, your ability to rebound after time off will be quick. Your body periodically needs a week off, so allow yourself this luxury.
- "Human Physiology"; Lauralee Sherwood; 2002
- "The Beginning Runner's Handbook"; Ian MacNeill; 2005
- "Health and Fitness"; Brian Sharkey; 2002