Any good training plan, and most bad training plans for that matter, will have at least one rest day per week.
Yet for many runners, the rest day is the hardest day of the week when it comes to sticking to the plan…
A Rest Day IS a Training Day
You understand what I’m saying there, right?
Your rest day is every bit as important to your improvement as a runner as any other workout on your schedule. If you’re unwilling to blow off a long run, or any other regular workout, you need to be just as unwilling to blow off a rest day.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the rest day is THE MOST IMPORTANT “workout” on your weekly running schedule.
I’ve talked about the value of rest before, especially when it comes to getting enough sleep at night.
I’ve been seeing people lately talk about going stir crazy and running on their rest days a lot lately on social media either because they are afraid of losing fitness or they don’t think a rest day is that important.
In most cases, all I can do is shake my head.
Taking A Dose of My Own Medicine
Look, I get it.
Even for those of us that believe 100% in the restorative powers of the rest day, there can be times when it’s tough to stick with the plan.
Case in point, Wednesday was Global Running Day.
Wednesday also happens to be one of the two days of my week where I don’t run.
I’m a guy who talks about running online for a living, and I had to decide whether I should run on Global Running Day or sit out the one day a year that is basically dedicated to us as our own little holiday!
As much as I wanted to participate, I didn’t do it. I stuck to the plan.
I respected the rest day.
Maybe We Should Try to Learn From the Pros
In many instances, I’m not sure that we can really take what the pros are doing and try to apply that to our own running.
But if there is one thing that I would strongly suggest you really try to emulate the pros/elites, it’s on the subject of rest and recovery during training and after a big race. Past episodes where I talked with elites about making appropriate rest a priority include my chats with Ryan Vail, Emily Harrison, and Tina Muir. (Several others did as well, but these episodes really stand out in my mind.)
I recently talked to Anna Weber for the show (episode coming in a couple of weeks), and she attributes the injury that she’s currently coming back from directly to not taking enough rest after running the Olympic Trials.
She told me, point blank, that she had always taken 2 weeks completely off from running after a marathon, and that has always worked well for her and her body.
Yet for some reason, after the Olympic Trials she only took a week off of running. She felt refreshed and she was ready to get back to training in hopes of getting on the track and making the US team in the 10k.
Instead, she wound up injured.
That injury cost her a couple of months of running, lost income due to races missed, and a possible trip to Brazil to represent the United States.
Who knows how it would have turned out, but I may have had a much different chat with Anna if she had just taking an additional week off after the race.
Make Your Rest Day a Priority
At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you.
But if I may be so bold, what is best for 99.9% of the people who will ever read this post (and what is unquestionably best for 100% of the writers of this post) is a regularly scheduled rest day, at minimum, each week.
If you want to run for many more years without your body breaking down, you have to give your body time to repair the damage you do to it every time you go for a run.
And that means that a regular rest day, coupled with adequate sleep on a nightly basis needs to be a priority.
Even if your rest day happens to fall on the one running holiday celebrated by the entire running world…
How Do You Feel About Rest Days? Treat Them as Gospel? Blow Them Off Completely? I’d Love to Hear Your Take Below!
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