Rest Days

Let’s talk about not running for a minute.  Instead, let’s talk about rest!  A very important part of running.

photo 3 photo 2

Rest days are kind of a personal thing for runners, just like training plans.  Everyone is different and different things work for different people.  What some people consider “rest” others consider exercise.  When one person needs three days of rest, another may only need one.  Each runner is different and have their own definitions, figuring out your definition is all part of your running journey.

I have always fallen into the one FULL day of rest category.  As in one day a week, I do not exercise at all.  It took me a while to get to the point that all the other days were filled with running (they might have been filled with other things before), but for the last couple years I have pretty much been running 6 days a week.  That doesn’t leave a lot of time for other things which is why I don’t do much other than run.  If I am going to exercise, I just want to run.  That’s just me.  If I do want to incorporate other activities (yoga or cycling), then it takes some serious planning or backing off of my running to fit it all in and not be overdoing it. 

While writing out the recaps for weeks 3 and 4 of my North Face 50M training, I noticed that I had been doing yoga on my rest days.  On those days I really didn’t think much of it, especially since I was mostly going to yoga for the stretching.  But as I started looking closer at my training in a week format back to back, I realized that doing yoga on my rest days hadn’t given me any full days off to do nothing.  As much as I wanted to incorporate yoga into my routine, I knew I had to change something.  Not only is yoga not in my personal definition of rest, I actually think yoga is pretty tough!  I am sore after and I break a sweat during it.  So last week I moved my easy run day to yoga day and went from there.  This week I took another full rest day.   

When I brought up the topic in those recap posts, a friend of mine and I started emailing back and forth about it because it hadn’t really occurred to her either.  Then this weekend she texted me a picture of something she saw in her Runner’s World calendar.  It echoed exactly what I had thought when I realized I was breaking my rule. 

No yoga!
photo 1

I am a big believer in taking a day off.  Not only for physical benefits but for mental as well.  As much as I adore running, it’s so nice to just have a day of nothing.

Where do you stand on rest days?  Do you do some sort of exercise every day of the week?  Do you take a complete day (or more!) off of exercise?

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22 Responses to Rest Days

  1. Marlene September 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    I have struggled with this over the summer because it is HARD fitting in three disciplines during the week, and if I take a rest day it means doubling (or tripling) up even more on my other days. BUT I do think I function better with a complete day of rest – moreso mentally than physically, I think.

    • Aron September 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      GAH yes you triathletes… I remember Chris trying to fit in all the workouts – its nuts! I think it’s especially hard for runners turned triathletes who want to continue running a lot but have to give it up or else they are just overloaded.

      • Marlene September 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

        Ding! Ding! Ding! Exactly!

        In my mind, I already HAVE given up a lot of running – like, I feel like I barely run, and yet I still run more than most tri plans would call for (percentage wise). I’m sure that will shift when I start Placid training (WITH A COACH) but it’s gonna be HARD!

  2. Siobhan September 6, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    I take one rest day of doing absolutely nothing a week. Sometimes if my body needs it, I will throw in some additional rest days. I always feel like my stretching and foam roll days are rest days but I know deep down inside, they really aren’t.

  3. Celia September 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I always take one complete rest day!

  4. Tia@RunnerMom September 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    I am taking a full rest day today and I needed to read this! I guess I take 1-2 a week depending on my workouts and how I am feeling. I would love to always go 6 days in a row but I am not quite ready for that yet. It is easy to fall into the cross training trap on off days. I have done that before and my body did not get the rest it needed.

    I don’t know if it’s just me but I seem to be way more hungry on my rest day than any other day of the week. Not sure why…

    • Aron September 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      NOT JUST YOU! I am always starving on my days off or even my “easy” days.

  5. Lindsey September 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    I am so jealous that you can run 6 days in a row! I think my shins would literally crack in half from stress fractures if I tried that. I generally take 3 “rest” days per week, but I do yoga or barre class on 2 of those. I don’t feel tired that often, but my shins/calves can’t take much more than 2 running days in a row. I’m still new to running as a sport so I’m hoping that I can back off the rest days as I progress because it makes it very hard to train for anything longer than a half when you’re only running 4 days a week.

    • Aron September 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      I trained for my first marathon on 4 days a week of running! I know a lot of people who do… just in case it’s something you are considering ;)

  6. Lacey @ familyfitnessandfoodery September 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I have gotten to where I am regularly resting 1-2 days per week. Sometimes one of those days is strength but usually I couple strength with my short run. I hope to work up to only one rest day per week as the norm once I start training for my half.

  7. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad September 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    i so agree – 1 day of complete nothing! rest makes you stronger!

  8. Angela September 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I’ve always struggled with this because of martial arts, which I do on Monday & Wednesday evenings. It definitely makes it very tough to recover enough AND run the kind of mileage I want when I’m training for something I care about a lot. If I take a complete rest day, that means I only have four days to run (best case) when there’s already not a lot of time for it on week days. For a while I used to try to do a short run before my class on M or W in order to get in five days of running and a full rest day, but more often than not that just made my martial arts crappy. It also means that it only takes a couple of social engagements to completely sabotage a week mileage-wise. Lately I just end up running every non-karate day that I can & just try to make sure that I spend good chunks of my weekends recovering. Every now & then my body will insist on a complete rest day, and I just try to pay attention & do that occasionally (or try to view running days that get “ruined” by other plans as enforced rest day). It’s a tough balance!

  9. Lisa September 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    I usually end up w/ 2 rest days off. I’ve never been a high mileage kind of girl and it’s honestly worked for me. I don’t think I ever “do nothing” but if I do something, it’s informal like landscaping or walking my dog, etc. So I feel like I’m always moving; it’s just not always tracked on my log or via GArmin :)

  10. Jess September 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Well, since I’m currently running a streak, I’m taking zero rest days.

  11. Cathryn @ My Heart's Content September 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I feel like a total slacker after all these comments but I’ve only ever really run every other day. When I trained for my marathon I ran 4 x weekly but that’s it. I think it’s more psychological than physical – if I do something too much, I end up getting burnt out and not doing it for years and I don’t want that for running. I do sometimes cycle or hike on my rest days but very often, I don’t do anything. I could probably run faster if I ran more, but I like the run/life balance very much. As does my family.

  12. Christine September 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    I love rest day, I have no problem to have 2 days off from running. My problem is more to find the motivation to get back on running. I’m amazed how motivated and determined you are!

  13. courtney September 12, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    love the pictures of the pups! i think that while training rest & recovery are just as important as the workouts!

    at the moment since my running is so so so minimal, i don’t really have a complete rest day. i usually hope on the elliptical for 45 minutes or so. however, once my mileage gets back up to some decent numbers, i’ll be taking at least one full rest day a week!

  14. Kyle September 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    I am a strong believer in listening to my body. Some times I can go 5,6,7 days without rest and I feel great. Other times I may workout 1 day and have to take the next day off.

  15. RoadBunner September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I am trying to shuffle my yoga around a little to have a real rest day. Can’t always do it, but I am making the effort. I suppose any discipline that occasionally has your heart pumping and you seeing stars when you are just standing there is not really “just stretching,” right? :)

  16. Sophie September 21, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    I am ALL about rest days! Sometimes I try to start with a few yoga positions (not a full workout) and a little walk to and from the coffee shop :-)


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