There must have been a time when you had to stop during a long run, either due to traffic or going to the toilet. However, does this have an impact on the workout overall?
Stopping during a long run can also be a sign of a more serious problem. For example, your running pace might not be adjusted to your fitness level or you might have a low pain tolerance threshold.
In this article, you will find out what happens if you stop during a long run and what are the consequences on the workout overall.
Is it okay to stop during a long run?
Generally speaking, a brief stop during a long run doesn’t hurt. However, if you stop too often and don’t plan these pauses, they can lead to certain negative consequences on the workout overall, such as the adoption of bad habits in the future or the inability to track your progress.
It is important to listen to your body and know how to recognize signals sent by your body. Naturally, sometimes it is better to stop entirely or finish the workout earlier than to run through the pain and further worsen your health.
TipIt is important to be able to assess when it is better to stop and when to endure the effort and continue running without stopping.
Below I have described in detail what determines whether it is okay to stop during a long run.
1. It depends on the purpose of a long run workout
If the purpose of a long run workout is to improve overall aerobic endurance and reduce excess weight then stopping during a long run is not bad as it will not diminish any effects.
On the contrary, if short pauses will help you run longer, your total running time will be longer as well. Therefore, you will spend more time on your feet, burning more calories and improving your aerobic capacity.
However, if your goal is to improve your tolerance to pain and discomfort or to do a long run at a certain intensity, then stopping is not desirable. In that case, you will not induce the necessary conditions or adapt to training.
Even shorter pauses lower your heart rate, giving your body a chance to recover. This reduces the intensity of the workout overall.
2. It depends on the type of long run
If you’re doing a long slow distance run and your goal is to run as many miles as you can, then short pauses won’t be a problem.
However, if you do a long run at a race pace, then even the shortest pauses are not desirable. With them, you will not be able to simulate race conditions, you will reduce the effect of training, and you will not fulfill its purpose.
3. It depends on what you are preparing for
If you are preparing for a certain race, a half marathon or a marathon, and you want to run your personal best or achieve a specific time, then stopping during a long run is not desirable.
If you plan on taking walk breaks in order to finish a race, then it is desirable to take them during training as well.
However, if your goal is simply to maintain physical fitness, or if you are preparing for trail running races then stopping during a long run will not negatively affect your overall workout.
Read below which are the positive and which are the negative effects of stopping during long runs.
Benefits of stopping during long runs
Stopping while doing a long run can have some positive effects.
1. You can do longer workouts
Brief pauses during long runs are an ideal chance to have a short rest, lower your heart rate, and calm your breathing so you can continue your workout.
If you feel that you can no longer run due to muscle fatigue, it is better to take a walk break to rest than to stop entirely. It is completely normal to feel weak sometimes, and you might find it hard to do your workout. Only a couple of seconds of resting can do miracles.
2. There is less chance of injury
There is no hard evidence to suggest that taking walk breaks during running prevents injury. However, when you are tired, it is hard to maintain proper running technique and because of that, you are more likely to get injured.
In that case, it is better to stop and walk for a bit to rest and be able to concentrate on proper running technique.
Read more: Is It Bad To Take Walk Breaks During A Run?
3. You can enjoy the view
If you are running with the goal of accumulating as many miles as possible, unencumbered by the running pace, then a short pause during a run presents an opportunity to enjoy the view or the landscape that surrounds you.
4. Training is less mentally demanding
Predetermined stops during a long run will split your workout into smaller segments. Besides making it more interesting, it will also make your workout less mentally demanding. By concentrating on a particular segment, training becomes mentally easier to endure.
5. You will enjoy running unhindered
Some runners experience digestive problems during long runs. A short pause due to going to the toilet will not have as bad of an effect on your workout as suffering discomfort.
The more experienced runner you are, the better you will know what suits your body. Before a long run, pay attention to what you eat and drink to avoid discomfort during training and prevent yourself from stopping.
Likewise, taking refreshments during a long run is extremely important. Therefore, a short break due to drinking water is recommended, especially during high heat to avoid the occurrence of premature muscle cramps.
Disadvantages of stopping during long runs
Stopping during a long run also has some negative effects.
1. It reduces the effect of training
Stopping during a long run can reduce the effect of the workout and affect the race you are preparing for. If you take walk breaks, be careful and use them only when it is necessary and when it does not affect the goal of the training itself.
If you stop during a long run, you will lower your heart rate. This means that the workout will not induce certain physiological effects because you will not be in the optimal zone and the overall intensity of the effort will be reduced.
If it is necessary, rather slow down in order to finish the workout. That way, you will build mental strength and self-confidence because you will finish the workout without stopping despite the fatigue.
2. It encourages you to adopt bad habits
It is important to recognize when it is necessary to stop during a long run. During training, you learn mentally and physically how to run through pain and raise your tolerance to discomfort. Every time you stop without indenting to do so, you will find it a lot harder to run continuously when it becomes hard for you.
TipTime doesn’t stop during a race. If you stop every time you feel discomfort, you train your body to stop and adopt that mental pattern. In the future, you are more likely to stop in moments of discomfort.
Our bodies have incredible muscle memory. You need to teach your body to carry on when you become tired and your thoughts tell you to stop.
3. You become unable to track your progress
If you stop the watch every time you take a break during a long run, you lose track of the workout that you’ve done.
No matter how short the break, you will rest and lower your heart rate, which would not be the case if you did not stop. This will allow you to continue at the same pace at which you ran, making you think that you are faster than you actually are.
Stopping the watch when you take a break during a long run will greatly affect the final result of the workout and its parameters.
InfoIf you have inaccurate data, such as the average running pace, you will not be able to set realistic goals. Likewise, you will not know how to determine your target running pace, which can lead to poor results in races and even giving up.
4. It negatively affects your motivation
Stopping during a long run can lead to a loss of motivation because you won’t be running at your target pace. However, keep in mind that you did the training anyway and learn a lesson from it so that it doesn’t happen to you at the next training session or during the race.
How to avoid stopping during a long run
Here are a couple of ways in which you can reduce the need to stop during a long run.
1. Plan your route in advance
If you do a long run at a race pace, then it is advisable to plan your route so that you are not forced to stop, for example, due to traffic lights or traffic.
2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Indigestion is one of the most common reasons for stopping during long runs. In order to prevent that, pay attention to your food and fluid intake the day before and on the morning of a long run. Avoid fatty and hard-to-digest food full of fiber.
Personally, I like to eat pasta the night before a long run, and bread with butter and honey in the morning.
We are all different. With time, you will find out what suits you best and what doesn’t cause you any inconvenience during training. It is important to apply this knowledge to the race itself.
3. Check your gear
Tie your running shoes well before a long run so that you don’t have to stop unnecessarily.
Likewise, if you dress in layers, make sure that you wear a T-shirt that you can easily take off when it becomes too hot. That way you won’t have to stop and waste time taking it off.
4. Slow down
You will surely feel tired during a long run and your body will start telling you to stop. When that happens, try to slow down instead of stopping. By slowing down, you will give your body the rest it needs to move on and complete the workout.
5. Decrease running distance
If you are forced to stop during a long run to catch your breath and finish the workout, the problem might be that you have set yourself too large of a distance.
Increase your weekly mileage gradually and adjust the distances in your workouts according to your current capabilities.
6. Distract your thoughts
When you start feeling tired and you want to stop during a long run, focus on arm work, breathing, relaxed shoulders, and proper running technique.
Resist negative thoughts in your head. When your inner voice tells you to stop, ignore it. When it gets louder, be louder as well. Pain and discomfort are not permanent. With time, you will become more resilient and find it easier to go endure difficulties.
Why can’t you do a long run without stopping?
You are often forced to stop during a long run due to going to the toilet, tying running shoes, or traffic. However, if you often find the need to stop during a long run, that might be a sign of some greater problems as well.
It is important to identify the cause of stopping and find ways to reduce or prevent it.
Often times you misjudge the running pace and start too fast, which naturally leads to stopping and taking a short break so that you can continue. Likewise, it is possible that you simply lack fitness and endurance and set yourself unrealistic goals.
Hi, I’m Matea! I’m an Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…