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6 Signs You Need to Take a Day Off from Running

Take a day off from running if you exhibit one of these 6 signs

If you are a regular runner, you know how you can get stuck in a rut during training. Perhaps you skip your rest day thinking you can get ahead. You may train longer and eat healthier, but you are not getting any faster or stronger. Sounds like you’re overtraining. Rest days are vital and the key to preventing overtraining. By overtraining, your body doesn’t have the opportunity to recover. This results in getting stuck into the black hole called overtraining. Check for these 6 signs to see if you need to take a day off from running. 

6 signs you need a rest day

1. Tired

If you feel exhausted, sore, or fatigued even after getting 7-8 hours of sleep, take a rest for a day or two. This will aid in your body’s recovery process and give your muscles a chance to heal. In addition to a rest day, follow these tips that’ll help you balance life and training better.

2. Not sleeping

You need a rest day if you still feel fatigued after 7-8 hours of sleep.

If you are having trouble sleeping, it is a sign that your nervous system is working overtime. Lack of proper sleep results in poor performance. It could also inhibit the conversion of carbs to glycogen. Avoid scrolling on your phone before bed. Establish and follow a bedtime routine to signify to your body it’s time to sleep.

3. Dehydrated

If you feel super thirsty constantly or the color of your urine is dark yellow, it is a sure sign of dehydration. Exhausted adrenal glands start releasing cortisol, also called the stress hormone, resulting in an increased demand for water. Without proper hydration, the body reaches catabolic state, a condition that can include extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, and sleeplessness.

4. Sluggish during run

Every runner experiences a bad workout every now and then. If you feel weak and slow during several workouts, it is a red flag. Your body may not be getting time to recover making you feel fatigued and tired.

5. Mental burnout

Mental exhaustion is a major symptom of overtraining. Though it is normal to feel like not working out every once in a while, if this becomes regular it may indicate a deep physical and mental burnout. Your body is so worn out that your desire to run may not be as high as it normally is. Running can reduce your stress, but it can also increase anxiety if you don’t take a rest day.

You need a rest day if you experience burnout from overtraining.

6. Abnormal heart rate

An elevated or reduced heart rate is also an indication of exercise-related stress. If your body isn’t responding how it normally does then you need to take a day or two off from running. If it persists you need to visit your doctor. Pro tip: become a more efficient runner with this advice on how to breathe properly.

Rest is extremely beneficial

Remember, rest and recovery are great for your body. They provide the opportunity for you to make mental and physical repairs. Take your rest days and make sure you’re sleeping well. Pair that with proper nutrition and hydration and you’ll breeze through your training. Remember, if you experience these red flags your body is telling you to take a day off from running.

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How Running Can Reduce Your Stress and Anxiety

Regular running can help reduce your stress and clear your mind

The real world is full of stressors. Whether at home or at work or just life, there are various ways your stress levels can increase. This can lead to poor eating, lack of sleep, and weaken your immune system. Running is an activity that is known to reduce stress levels and anxiety. Regular running provides you with a schedule to follow and a way to exert energy. When setting your routine, following the ABCs of goal setting can help you stay on track. Here’s how running can reduce your stress, improve your immune system, and jumpstart multiple health benefits for your life.

  1. The joys of runner’s high

Sarah Jackson, 2020 Austin Marathon female champ, crossing the finish line with her arms raised joyously in the air. Running is a great way to reduce your stress.

Sarah Jackson, 2020 Austin Marathon female champ, experiencing runner’s high as she crosses the finish.

Even if you aren’t a regular runner, you’ve probably already heard about runner’s high. It’s a euphoric feeling runners report experiencing during a run. One school of thought believes that this is caused by the release of a feel-good hormone called endorphins’ into your system. At the same time, hormones related to stress, like cortisol, are decreased. This combination makes runners feel amazing and provides a mental boost during and after the run.

Another school of thought points to something else – endocannabinoids. Recent research shows that running releases a biochemical substance called endocannabinoids into the body. According to Dr. David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, endocannabinoids can move more easily through the bloodstream and reach the brain. Here, endocannabinoids act as a mood-improving neuromodulator that can reduce your stress and anxiety.

  1. Take a break

Social media has been linked to increased anxiety and FOMO – or the fear of missing out. Stepping away from Instagram or Facebook and running, even for an hour a day, gives you a break from the social world. You can be one with your thoughts, listen to music or a podcast, or chat with your running partner.

Running can offset the stress from a bad day at work.

Other parts of your daily life, such as a bad day at work, being stuck in traffic, and various daily hassles can also increase the likelihood of you experiencing stress. According to research, running helps control chronic stress. Even the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has linked regular exercise, such as running, to reduced anxiety and stress.

  1. Build up your immune system

Good health and strong immunity have a powerful effect on mental health. Running regularly can help improve cardiovascular function, improve blood circulation, control blood pressure, maintain healthy body weight, and much more. Regular running can also increase the production of blood vessels that support the brain. This is done through a process known as neurogenesis. When new brain cells are produced, this has the added benefit of improving your brain’s performance and mitigating cognitive decline. Pro tip: keep everything on track with these tips for balancing life and training.

  1. Sleep better at night

Regular running can help you sleep better at night.

A bad night’s sleep can have adverse long-term consequences for your overall health. It’s also a causative factor behind the development of chronic stress and anxiety. An article by Psychology Today revealed that regular running can control your body’s circadian rhythm, help you fall asleep faster, and sleep better.

  1. Improved concentration and memory

If you want to get better at learning, retaining new information, and performing better daily – turn to running. Studies show that high-intensity anaerobic running as well as low-intensity aerobic running improves overall brain performance and makes you a better learner. Your hippocampus, or the part of your brain linked to memory and learning, gets a huge boost from regular running.

  1. Build community and friendships

Running can lead to improved memory and concentration.

Many people are aware of the health benefits of running. Today, there are various communities and apps dedicated to helping runners connect with each other. There are many benefits to connecting in-person or socially, like accountability and support. Pro tip: follow this advice and convince your friend to train with you.

You can also interact with other runners on your route – a smile or a wave has mood-boosting effects on the body. Running events, running groups, and other community events are also common among the runner’s circle. Amp up your social life by running and enjoy the benefits that social interactions have when it comes to reduced stress levels.

Running is a great reward for your body and mind. You can set your own goals, develop your self-confidence, meet new friends, and build a healthier lifestyle. With regular running, you’ll begin to see a difference in your life when you reduce your stress and anxiety.