“Anyone can train hard. Do you have the discipline to recover?” – Lauren Fleshman
The words “rest days” can be a pain for some runners. It’s hard to back off training sometimes, especially with “motivational” messages such as “the more the better,” “someone busier is doing more right now,” and “do you think your competition is resting?” You start feeling guilty for taking a day off or you get restless because you feel weird not working out.
Yes, you need your long runs, intervals, hill work and steady weekly mileage to push yourself to better race performances, but if you can’t recover from those efforts, they really are not doing much good for you. It is during recovery when improvements happen.
Without rest, you are denying your body time to adapt to the stress it’s under and be too tired for your next run – this can lead to injuries! Think of your rest period as part of your hard workout. And as Brendan Brazier puts it, “'[i]t’s the time period in between the training that makes the athlete. It’s the recovery phase; quicker recovery = more training, and more training makes you a better runner.”
Here’s a study that explaining how your muscles are weakened after training for a marathon and need extensive recovery before returning to full training.
Rest is not just zoning out in front of the couch on your day off. Rest requires good nutritious food, quality sleep, maybe some compression socks, and maybe some light stretching/yoga. I personally walk around my house in compression socks, do some light yoga, get a massage, and start rehydrating.
There’s also “active recovery.” Active recovery focuses on completing a workout at a low intensity, but high enough that it gets the blood moving which helps reduce residual fatigue in the muscle. On a recovery day, running at a low intensity for a couple minutes, yoga, long walks, etc for those who don’t want to stay put!
So do you take rest days and what are they like?
PS. Stay tuned! I’m think there might be a giveaway of some sort coming soon 😉