Once a week I build in one day off from my training schedule. No running, no weight training, no strenuous workouts. By the end of the training week my body is begging for a day off, especially during marathon training time.
This morning as I hobbled out of bed, gingerly walking on feet that ache from old plantar fasciitis injuries, my head was swimming with all the stuff I needed to do on my day off to catch up with life. Write the blog, make some appetizers for the afternoon gathering with friends, do some work for the upcoming PTA meeting, help my son with his homework, do some laundry, and the list goes on. Yesterday I thought that my first priority was sleeping in. Today, while lying in bed, thinking of this mega list, somehow sleeping in shifted to the bottom of my list.
Rest Days are Important
Although I fill my training rest days with all the other stuff in life that needs doing, I enjoy these days. I get to sit at my computer with a great cup of coffee and just write or maybe I start the day with getting the laundry going. The start of this day is peaceful as the rest of the family sleeps in. It’s still my time and I get to pick what to do.
Psychologically, rest days are important because they give my mind a break from the routine and focus of the ‘rigid’ training schedule I set for myself. The routine is particularly rigid when there’s a running goal ahead. My mind won’t let me quit when the GPS on my watch says 8.78 miles run. I might as well round it up to 9 miles!
Physiologically, rest days are critical for my body to recover from the stress I cause to my muscles and joints. Without the rest days, my muscles would be constantly in need of energy. Instead of building muscle I would be breaking down (catabolizing) muscle. It took my Type A personality wisdom for this message to sink in. As I got older, my body could not keep up with the constant stress and as a result I got injured more often.
Active Recovery also Important
Besides building in a full day of rest in my routine, I also build in easier training days throughout the week. A hard day of running is followed by an easier day of cross training. It’s amazing how refreshed I feel and ready I am to do another hard day after the easier training day.
Having said this, there are times when I have pushed too hard on easier training days. As I drag myself through a tough workout the next day, I remind myself to stick to the plan: there are days to recover and days to go to the max!
Mark Your Calendar
For those of us with jobs, families to care for, house to keep tidy, and volunteer commitments to complete, fitness and nutrition goals may seem daunting. Make fitness part of your daily life and remember to schedule proper rest days. You can’t keep a hectic schedule without regular breaks. Refresh your mind and your body by making your ‘day off’ an ongoing habit.