Many runners think that taking a day off is a bad thing. The thought of not running any miles on a given day is ridiculous. There is the saying that when you are running 3 miles someone else is running 4, this type of thinking leads into the “no rest” mentality.
Every training program that I’ve followed includes some form of rest/recovery in it. Resting is an important part of allowing your body, especially your muscles the chance to heal and repair themselves. To improve, muscles need a chance to create new fibers and generally get stronger. Running – even an easy jog will tear muscle fibers that need healed.
Resting can mean a lot of different things though. Below are several types of rest:
1) Doing nothing. This is generally what we think of when using the word rest. Doing no strenous physical activity.
2) Cross-training. Biking, Swimming, Rowing, Elipticating – doing some type of physical exercise that isn’t running and doesn’t use your main running muscles. Elipticating might actually be a bad form of cross-training but it is a fun word to write.
3) Active Rest. I think of this as doing nothing strenous but maybe doing something moderate or different than normal. Going for a longer walk than normal, doing more yard work than normal. Basically doing something that isn’t necessarily strenuous but isn’t sitting around on the coach.
I would advocate that doing absolutely nothing every now and then is a good thing. I am a huge proponent of cross-training at least one day a week. Most types of cross-training will actually help your running.
One thing I’m learning more and more is that it is important to understand your body and what you need to stay healthy and fit. A few days off in any given week isn’t going to kill your training plan. But a well thought out resting strategy can be crucial to race-day success.
Bonus Tip: There is a way to get 24 hours of rest and still run every day. If you run in the morning on Monday and then in the evening on Tuesday, you have given your body 24 hours of rest in between runs. What you do on Wednesday is tricky, but you still got a “rest day” without writing down a zero. If you run Wednesday morning prepare for it to be a crappy run (especially if Tuesday was a hard workout). You could mitigate this by doing a lunch-time run.
[tags] running, resting, rest [/tags]