Last week I did a few things that I don’t normally do. I took two rest days and incorporated a strength training class. Since it was a light, recovery week, my volumes were lower. I ran a total of 44.4 km. The total time running was 4 hours and 32 minutes.
I have always found the idea of recovery weeks and rest days challenging. I am a chronic “doer”. So, while my logical brain understands the need for rest and recovery, I feel off when I take a break or am not “working” towards my goals. The idea that not running is just as important as my long runs blows my mind. And if I ran 31 K last Saturday, why would I only run 20 this Saturday?
So why are rest days important? Ultimately rest days prevent injury and help your muscles rebuild. When you run, you cause microscopic tears in your muscles. Rest days allow your muscles to recover from this. In the long run, rest days help you become a stronger and faster runner.
Rest days also keep you mentally fresh. Intense training can wear on you mentally, as well as physically. Run after run, with no break in sight, can make it start to feel more like work than a fun activity. Rest days allow me to continue to see running as a “get to” activity vs. a “have to” activity. I can appreciate getting out for a run when I have forced myrself to stay put for a day.
I am working hard on making sure I get at least one rest day a week. Believe me, some weeks it’s a struggle. Through the week, I always fit my runs in at 5am. Not only does this allow me to get my run in before anyone else in the house is even awake, but it also helps me get moving in the morning. It gets my blood flowing and pumps me up for my day. On the day I don’t run, I find myself a bit sluggish and not as peppy. It takes me longer to get in to my day. I have to keep in mind that I am in this for the long hall. It’s one day now, but taking these single days could mean the difference between me running 1000K and me falling short of my goal. I want to do everything I can to make sure I get through all of my races this year. So, if that means I have to suffer through one slow day a week, then that is just what I have to do.
Would love to hear how everyone else feels about rest days!