When it comes to training, we’re often told we should run a bit longer, a bit faster and a bit more often if we want to improve. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes running less is best.
When and why you should (sometimes) run less
Sometimes doing less can actually get you more. This is especially true when it comes to recovery, an essential part of the training process. After any race or hard workout or during scheduled downtime such as between training cycles, most of your running should be very easy, at a relaxed pace and shorter duration/less time than what you’re used to. These easy runs provide a number of important benefits without stressing the body and increasing the risk of injury.
Not only does this allow the body to physically recover and prepare itself for subsequent training, it also provides an all-important and essential mental break as well.
What you should do instead
Running a bit less overall and at a lower intensity will also provide the time and energy you need to focus and improve upon oft-ignored and neglected aspects of training such as diet, sleep and supplemental fitness and exercise.
Take as little as an extra 10-20 minutes a day–the time you’d normally be running–to dedicate to strength and core work, stretching and flexibility or cross-training activities. Spend that time preparing a healthy meal or exploring new recipe ideas. Sleep in an extra 30 minutes in the morning or hit the hay a bit earlier than you would.
Use days not running to engage in other forms of exercise such as swimming, biking or team sports. Spend more time with family and friends (the same ones you neglected during peak training).
The point here is that time away from running and the daily grind of training is good for both your body and your mind. It should leave you feeling rested, refreshed and ready to resume hard training when the time comes.