Rest days in your running schedule are difficult. It means you don’t run and that goes against why you started running in the first place. So, here’s rest days in proper context…

I’lll admit I hate rest days.

They break your momentum and they mess with your performance stats.

But…

Without them, your body never gets to maximise the benefits of your training.

Some coaches refer to rest days as: adapting days.

I like that name better. Because that’s what they are for.  Time to let your body adapt to the workload you’ve put it under.

It’s also true that our cardiovascular fitness will improve faster than our muscles develop.

That means we need a break every now and then to let our body catch up.

Your muscles will strengthen and your cardiovascular fitness improves. Because your body has had time to let that happen.

The alternative is to keep going. You’ll get tired. But it is possible to run through that.

You will at some point, hit a spot where the training effect is lost.

That ’s because your muscles are sore and tired. Adding more load will encourage lactic build up - not muscle growth and strengthening.

Mind your mind

My biggest problem with rest days is they way they mess with your health data.

You don’t hit your workout targets that day. And you can only eat a lettuce leaf  so that you don’t exceed your calorific intake budget.

All those considerations tend to mess with your thinking.

So, you need to get your facts straight.

Your body needs the recovery time. It is simple as that. There’s nothing else to it.

You’ll be working really hard to improve your fitness. But your efforts will be lost if your body can never use them.

I make a point of doing something different on rest days. I often go for a short walk.

Sometimes, I’ll eat something I fancy -  screw the calorie budget for one day.

The reason being? It makes your rest days worth looking forward to. And it will fire you up to begin training again.

Sleep well…

It depends what time you normally get your run in. For me, it’s often as early as 04:30.

So, a rest day is a chance for me to lay in a bit. The extra sleep goes a long way for recovery too.

The bottom line…

Rest days are hard when you want to keep the momentum going.

But, they are necessary. If you want to keep improving they are, anyway.

Oh, and remember to call them adapting days, not rest days. Daft as it sounds, it works.