When getting involved in a new training plan or fitness regimen, it can be tempting to go overboard. It’s happened to me many times, and I’ve seen it happen to others when I’m working at the gym. The first two weeks are full of ambition and energy. Whether that means waking up extra early to hit the weight machines, an hour on the treadmill, spin classes every day or a combination of all of those…most people have a tendency to overdo it. Enthusiasm for fitness and new habits it great, but it’s important to keep your routine and your activities sustainable. That’s why the rest day is so important.
According to Runner’s World magazine: “Years of research disprove the notion that a day off wrecks fitness; in fact, the opposite is true. …When it follows difficult bouts of work, rest lets your body adapt to the work and improve. Without recovery, adaptation may occur short-term, but ultimately it will fail. And since most injuries come from overuse, a day of cross-training, rest, or easy miles can prevent three-or four-week forced breaks caused by, say, ITB syndrome.”
A day off during your training routine restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, and reduces fatigue, in addition to reducing the risk of overuse injuries and mental burnout.
Hal Higdon, the godfather of modern run training, concurs: “The most important day in any beginning or intermediate running program is rest. Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.”
How much rest you need depends on many factors and is ultimately dependant on your own body and needs. Some experienced runners find that one day a week off is sufficient, though others need 2-3 days a week for ideal muscle recovery.
There are a few ways to incorporate rest into a program, but I prefer to have scheduled days where I don’t run or work out. If my brain really needs the mental release of a workout, I’ll do some cross training, very light weight training, walking or yoga.
For my current marathon training program, my rest days are Monday and Sunday (or Friday), with cross training on Friday (or Sunday). For the beginner running group that I’m teaching at City Fitness, I’m recommending running Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with either resting or very light cross training in between.
To recap: Rest days aren’t about being lazy. It’s about building improvement and recovery time into your training program.
Here’s one of the fliers I made for the running clinic that I’m teaching! If you’re in Philly and are interested in getting into running, I’d love to have you in the group.
The plan is to meet twice per week in the evenings, for about 45 minutes. I’ll guide everyone through stretches, explain the program for the evening and then we’ll start with a brisk warm-up, followed by intervals of timed fast walking, running and sprinting (only a little, I promise!). Over the course of the 12 sessions, the walking portions will be shorter and fewer and the running will be longer. Eventually, you’ll be running the whole time at your own pace.
I’m also going to send weekly emails to keep everyone motivated, with suggestion for running/walking activities for the rest of the week.
Eeeeee, so excited for this! Just a reminder, this is open to members and the public. And when you think about it, it’s only about $4-6 per session. Yay!
It’s a day of work hard, treat yourself, work hard, treat yourself.
First, I got a snazzy manicure after the completion of a hellish project at work (we finished Tuesday and I was supposed to redeem a complementary massage that evening, but was only duped by marketing. But that’s a story for another day. Egads!). This was a lovely treat, though. Gorgeous color! “I’m Not Really A Waitress” by OPI.
Now I’m feeling pretty great after this evening’s run. I’ve been working my way through a Couch to 5k program using the free Run 5k app. I accidentally clicked to Week 3 instead of Day 3, but it wasn’t all that difficult. The 28 minute sessions go quickly and it’s helpful to have a voice prompt over my playlist, though after suggestions from a pro, I’m going to need to be wary of getting dependent on my gadgets during workouts.
This evening was perfect weather to be outside. Running in our neighborhood is tricky, since it’s all hills and cul-de-sacs with abruptly ending sidewalks. It’s cheating a bit, but I alternated this session by doing the running cycles on flat or downhill areas and went uphill during the walking cycles. I only ran two miles but it felt good and that’s the point. Eventually I’ll get to a faster pace (currently between 11 and 13 minutes per mile, but I’m not trying for speed).
The other treat-yo-self part? My go-to after workout meal: beans cooked in olive oil, avocado, soy sauce and a sunny side up egg.
This weekend I’m looking forward to spin class on Saturday and yoga on Sunday, followed by brunch with some fun ladies.