Once you start running it can be hard to stop. When we see ourselves smashing our goals, whether it be improving stamina, distance, or time, we don’t want to slow our progress. However, rest days are equally as important as training days if you do want to progress as a runner. You need to give your body time to recover for it to get stronger.
When you run you are causing microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. As you can imagine, your body doesn’t enjoy this, so it responds by rebuilding your muscles to be stronger. However, this is only possible when you rest. The body can take anywhere from 36 to 48 hours to recover, and without the rest time your body cannot rebuild or strengthen those muscles, which means you won’t see the results of your hard work.
Incorporating rest days into your training schedule reduces the risk of injury. There are so many overuse injuries your body can suffer from, including shin splints, achilleas tendinopathy and stress fractures, to name a few. These are avoidable with rest. What’s more is that by preventing injury you’re reducing the amount of time you would have to take off from running in the long run from overuse. Thus, overall scheduling rest days will make you more consistent.
Rest days can also reduce cortisol levels, better known as the ‘stress hormone,’ which can cause depression, irritability, and fatigue. On a similar note, rest days help to avoid burn out, like with any activity or hobby, you don’t want to overdo it or push yourself too hard. Taking a scheduled break means you’re more likely to enjoy your run on training days, plus you’ll have more energy! You can still incorporate movement into your rest days, whether it be taking a long walk, swimming, yoga or stretching. Ultimately it will aid your body’s recovery and enable you to become a better runner.
If you enjoyed this, check out our five top tips to start running.