Running Without A Break – Complete Guide to Running Without Rest
In endurance sports especially running, there is a lot of “the more you do, the better you get” mentality floating around.
While generally, this is harmless, some runners never take a break from training.
This makes you wonder, is running without a break or a day off healthy?
In this article, we discuss running without a break during the week. And why you should continue running every day without a break.
We also discuss how often you should run, how much running is healthy, and some benefits of planned rest in your training. So, keep reading to learn more.
How Often Should You Run?
As a coach, it is common you get asked this question. However, the answer to how often you should run varies between people.
Some of the factors that can influence how much you should run are:
– Fitness level
– Past injuries
Most research suggests that running twice per week is the minimum you should do to see improvements in your health and fitness. The research also suggests that running around 10 miles (16km) a week can reduce the chances of developing heart disease by 42 percent.
Even though it is possible to run every day of the week, for most new runners this is not a wise idea. Running 7 days a week (especially when new to running) can increase the risk of injury.
Instead, when starting running, try to vary your exercise routine and add in other forms of cardio and strength training. this will help to strengthen the body and improve fitness without placing more stress on the body while it adapts to the rigors of running.
Over time, you can then start to increase how often you run.
As a guide, running 3 times a week with a rest day or alternative training between runs can give the body time to rebuild and recover. This is called adaption, and without the proper adaption you will either plateau, pick up an injury, or in worst cases burn out.
But what about the more experienced runner? How often should they run?
Well, this comes down to how well their body can handle volume, intensity, and recovery. These three factors determine how much you should run each week and how much recovery should be planned.
Since everyone has different fitness levels, different running technique, and different goals. The amount you should run is highly individual. However, many people do get caught up in the “The more training you do, the better you become” mentality.
Following this type of mentality is a disaster waiting to happen. Your running volume each week should be increased slowly over time. The same goes for any intensity you do. Regular testing of your form can help you decide then if the amount of training you are doing is benefiting you.
So, what happens then if you are never injured, feel motivated and your fitness is improving? Should you continue running without a break during the week?
Running Without a Break – What You Should Know
Sometimes you hear of runners completing a massive running streak of 365 days, and some times longer without taking a break. However, for most people, this isn’t a good way to see your fitness improve.
Constant running without planned rest can wear you down over time. Even if you are only running 5km or even 10 km a day. Taking a day off each week or every second week (if you are more experienced) can help prevent overuse injuries, restore glycogen levels and give the body time to repair soft tissue damage. It is also important to prevent mental burnout in the long term.
Many runners though get caught up in the mileage trap. they constantly chase more mileage each week, and often this means not taking a break from running during the week. However, it is important to understand that consistency plays the biggest part in improvement, and by not taking a rest day your consistency after a while gets thrown out the window.
A good running training plan will include a slow increase in volume during part of the year. An increase in intensity in another part as well as planned recovery days throughout the week. It should also include a recovery week every 3-6 weeks. Where the volume and/or intensity is reduced to allow for adaption.
How often you take a recovery week will depend on your training load and fitness. The more experience and better recovery you have generally means you can extend out the recovery week past every 4 weeks. However, the novice runner should start having a regular recovery week every 3 weeks. Then as they become fitter and their recovery improves, can then be extended out to every 4 weeks.
How Much Running is Healthy?
This is a lot of studies showing us how much running is healthy. One study found that just running 5 to 10 minutes a day can help to reduce strokes, cardiovascular disease, heart issues and improve lung and mental health.
Another study found that running just two times a week ( 10 miles, 16km a week) can give you the same benefit.
However, one thing both studies found was that these benefits typically top off at 4.5 hours of running a week (30 miles/48km a week). That means for most people who use running as a way to improve health, don’t need to do more hours than this.
Benefits of Taking a Break From Running
While we may have already convinced you that taking a break from running once a week is a healthy way to approach your training, there are benefits to a longer period of rest. This period of rest can usually last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks and is usually planned at the end of the season for the experienced runner. Having an end-of-season break helps the body repair from the years of training, as well as giving you a mental break from running.
What about the novice runner though? Do they get the same benefits of taking a break from running during the year?
The answer to the question is a general yes. Even if you are only running 2 to 3 times a week, taking a short break from running during the year can help motivation, prevent overuse injuries, and repair soft tissue damage.
However, the difference between an elite runner and a novice is the elite runner will usually have a complete break that includes no training whatsoever. For the novice, they can instead replace running with some cross-training (strength training, core training, rowing, cycling, etc) during this period. This will help them prevent their fitness from declining.
Taking regular rest days and regular recovery weeks is a must if you want to see your fitness improve. It is also vital in keeping consistency in your training. So, next time someone brags about how much training they do, and how little rest they take, just take it with a grain of salt.