Whether you are training for your first half-marathon or your 20th marathon, always make sure to include rest days each week when you set your training plan. These are just as important as the long runs you plan each week.
The number of rest days will always depend on your plan. Some plans will have you start with a rest day after a full weekend of workouts, while others will have you end the week with a rest day.
Rest days don’t mean go out for an easy run though.
Many runners will make this mistake, especially if it is your first long distance race. Though many runners might think they are the same, light workout days and rest days are quite different. An easy recovery run will typically be about a minute per mile slower for your pace and there is definitely a time in your training plan for those types of runs. Rest days aren’t those days.
If your training plan calls for a rest day, do just that. Rest.
Your body will need time to heal from the hard workouts you are doing throughout the week. You’re breaking your body down during the intense workouts, so you need those rest days to allow it to heal. In fact, your body will respond to intense workouts better if you rest and you’ll see better results with your overall training.
If you don’t rest, you might begin to have overuse injuries. Rest days are also great for you mentally during a training cycle. No matter if your goal is to BQ or just finish your race, everyone needs a day to relax both your body and mind.
When it comes to rest day, enjoy it.
Go for a walk, do some extra stretching, drag out the dreaded foam roller or catch up on all the laundry from your training runs. Since you’re spending a lot of time on your training, rest day is also the perfect time to do something fun and non-running related with family or friends, like kicking back on the couch and enjoying a movie.
The next time you see “REST” on your training plan, don’t skip it – embrace it. Don’t add more miles or sneak off to the gym for another cardio or weight session. Relax, rest and recover. Let your body heal and let your mind take a break.
The sooner you learn to love and appreciate a rest day, the sooner your body will love you back.
Chelsea is one of our 2018 #10YearsRunning Official Bloggers. You can follow along as she trains for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on her blog Pittsburgh City Girl.