Rest and Work: the delicate balance

After yesterday’s unanticipated 7-mile run I decided to make today a rest day.  My training schedule calls for 3 miles, but I couldn’t think of a good reason not to put that run off until Friday and let my legs recover from my hill training and longer mileage, and let my entire body recover from the fact that I slept terribly last night!


(I still haven't bought any gold star stickers!)


It feels so good to take a rest day, and it feels good to need one as well!  Usually I don’t consider the days I don’t run “rest days” because they’re really just days when I’ve skipped a run for whatever reason, and not days when I’m taking care of myself and letting my body recover.  I do have those when I need them, but they are few and far between when my running is less consistent!

When I was reading Hal Higon‘s Marathon, I thought it was kind of funny how much he stressed the importance of rest days.  He is very adamant about the importance of taking them, and mentions how essential they are to balanced training several times throughout the book.  Although I thought he was going a bit far at first (I mean, how many times do you really have to say it, Hal?), I realized after a while that it is kind of easy to reach a point in training where you start thinking, ‘Hmm, I could fit in more miles if I skipped this rest day’ or ‘I could get a streak started if I didn’t take off this Friday’, or whatever.  There is something very tempting about running every day, although I don’t think my body would really be all that game–I would definitely crash if I tried it.

The truth of the matter is that rest days are a really important part of training, just like Hal Higon says.  I mean, the guy does know what he’s talking about, after all.  Taking the rest you need can help you steer clear of overtraining and injuries, and make it possible for you to get more out of your other workouts because you’re more energized and rested for them.

Right now, my schedule calls for two rest days a week.  The problem is that it gets kind of tricky at a certain point–I have all my running planned out, but as I’m increasing my mileage, how do I keep making time for yoga?  I want to continue to run 5 days a week, but I also want to try to get in a couple days of strength training as well.  The yoga I can see working into a day when I’m running, but I think strength training and running on the same day would be a bit difficult for me.  Is it okay to strength train or do yoga on a rest day?  Does a rest day just mean you don’t run, or should you really not do any activity at all?  I’ve used the same training plan for all three marathons I’ve run.  It has you run five days a week, has one day of pure rest, and one day of rest OR cross-training.  But! I’ve never cross-trained, so I have no experience to work from!

I may be making false attributions here, but I’m convinced that one of the reasons why I’m so bad about strength training consistently (I mean, other than the fact that I just don’t like it all that much) is because I’m never sure when exactly to do it.  My yoga always gets less consistent when I run more, too.

Has anyone figured how to work this delicate balance?  If so, I would love some advice!

Embrace:Me 30-day challenge day 13: Dudes, I am going to bed!  I know it’s only 9:13, but the goal is to be kind to oneself, right?  And bed is the only place I want to be right now, so I can’t imagine how I could possibly get any nicer.  Sure, the laundry needs folding, I could do some tidying up, maybe even a short yoga practice.  But then I would be violating the terms of the Challenge, and we can’t have that happening.  Goodnight!

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  1. I probably don’t take enough rest days, so I’m trying to take more. Yeah, I’m taking two days off of working out prior to Saturday’s 10K. It’s like a mini taper, but we’ll see how I do. I was tired today so it’s probably best, anyway.

    I think Hal knows what he’s talking about because when people do get into running, then tend not to rest, and like you said, think stuff like “Well, if I skip this rest day I can get X more miles in for the week…” etc, which can cause people to get hurt, burnt out, or not be a balanced runner.

    Oh, and my self care today… mental health day from work because of how tired I’ve been lately. I took a 3 hour long nap this afternoon and ate a quesadilla. Totally worth it!

    1. I’m glad you were able to take a day off, it sounds like you really needed it and that it was really beneficial! Anytime you can nap for three hours, you know your body has been trying to tell you something 🙂

  2. It is tough to balance. It’s hard to account for off days and on days, injuries, etc. You just have to roll with it I guess. Increasing mileage definitely throws another kink in it. I’m having that problem too…so I guess what I’m trying to ramble out is…I need help too 😦

  3. I think it is more about listening to your body. If you don’t need to take a rest day then don’t take it but also don’t over do it. Crosstraining is a greay way to get a workout in during a rest day. Your body will love it. It is essential for me when I have a long stretch between races or I get burnt out from just running. The stationery bike, swimming or even yoga are my choices. They improve my running since I work on muscles I use while running. I am running faster than I ever did by just running. I use what works for me.

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