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Running Tips

Rest up: 4 signs you need to take a break from running

Two smiling runners lean against a wall after a run.
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You've fallen in love with running, and what could be better? However, too much of a good thing can have its downsides, too, and with running, that might mean injuries, burnout, or other health issues. Before you dig yourself a hole too deep, learn the signs you need to take a break from running (temporarily).

Running is the best — it boosts your mood, keeps you fit, and sets the tone for your day or week. It's easy to want to run day in and day out. But if you're not careful, you'll be forced to take a break from running. We're talking physical and mental exhaustion, injury, going overboard with weight loss, and more.

To keep yourself from becoming the person watching the sport rather than participating in it, keep an eye out for these four signs of trouble.

1. Your body starts breaking down

When you're constantly sore, struggling to keep your normal pace, and having to take days off because of an ache or a pain, it's a sign you should pull back. Take a break from running for a few days, for starters, to give your body a chance to rest and repair. You can do short, gentle cross-training during this break to keep up your cardiovascular fitness and mood, but remember the purpose of the break. If after a few days you're still feeling bad, a visit to a qualified medical practitioner might be in order.

2. Fatigue is wearing you down

Another sign it's time to take a break from running is a constant state of fatigue. You struggle to get out of bed in the morning, the easiest run feels like climbing a mountain, and even your brain feels foggy and slow. Back off, skip a few runs, and catch up on sleep and good nutrition.

Two smiling runners

3. The pounds are dropping very fast

While a leaner, stronger body is one of the best benefits of running, losing too much weight from running too many miles is a sign you're overdoing it. If the scale is showing big, rapid weight loss, back off on your mileage. For women, this can also present as missed periods, which is a big red flag for overall health and should result in a visit to your doctor.

4. You've hit a plateau

For a while, you were seeing all kinds of progress with your running: getting faster every week, watching your race results improve, and finding the sport easier by the day. But you've hit a spot where no matter how hard or often you run, your paces remain stagnant. This is another sure sign you need to take a break from the routine. Put your focus on rest and nutrition, and then ease back in over a few weeks.

If running has become your obsession, we get it. But there's healthy obsession and unhealthy obsession. Watch for signs of fatigue, injury, or any of the other warning signs you're in trouble. If you see them, it could be time for a break from running. Keep yourself on the right side of the sport so you can enjoy years of healthy running ahead.

Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.

Written By
Amanda Loudin

Health and science writer

Amanda Loudin running in a forest

I've been a runner for more than two decades and a journalist for just as long. I'm also a certified running coach and nothing makes me happier than marrying up writing and running. Find me on the trails with two- and four-legged friends.