As life goes, there are good days and there are bad days. The same can be said of running due to the physical demand it puts on your body. I’m still no expert, but I’m pretty sure even the pros have their days of “cement legs”. When I first began long distance running about a year ago, I often had days where every step I took felt heavier than the last.
Having said that, I’m in my second week of training for the October Chicago Marathon (my marathon debut) and I have to admit that so far I am feeling absolutely no mental or physical strain on my body. Even though exhausted at the end of the day, I have no aches or sores and in fact I’m dropping minutes off my mile time for the long runs.
With a new sense invincibility, I contemplated pushing through my rest day and going out for an easy 3-miler. After talking with much wiser runners than myself and doing extensive reading online, I was quickly jolted back into perspective realizing that rest days are in fact an essential part of weekly marathon training.
Rest days, in short, are important for three major reasons:
- Prevent injuries from overuse
- Restores glycogen in the body
- Prevents mental burnout
What should you do doing a rest day? Absolutely nothing. It may seem counterproductive or even make a runner nervous, but a rest day is meant to be exactly that. Even yoga or other “relaxing” exercise is not recommended. Then best time to take a rest day is the day following a long run and then one mid-week.