Ideas for Rest Day
When you begin a training program for running, it is easy to focus on distance and endurance goals. Every day brings a new opportunity to meet those goals and enjoy that sense of accomplishment. A rest day for runners, however, is just as important as the running itself. A day off helps the muscles and joints heal from running, which is a high-impact activity.
How Often You Should Rest
Many runners set aside one day per week for rest and recovery. Before you get out of bed every morning, check your heart rate and notice how you feel. If your resting heart rate is higher than usual, or if you are sick or still feel sore or fatigued after one day of recovery, more frequent rest days may be in order. Some runners, for example, need a day off every three days, while others need two consecutive rest days during a particular week.
You don’t have to completely abandon exercise on rest days. Runners often incorporate “active rest” or light exercise other than running into their training schedules. In fact, your body gets used to running every day and can become resistant to the benefits of running. Swimming and cycling, for example, challenge different muscle groups and give the joints, tendons and ligaments a break from pounding the pavement.
Your body needs adequate water to endure and recover from running. If your urine is darker than usual, you may be dehydrated from the previous day’s run. A rest day is a good opportunity to drink plenty of water and replenish fluid levels.
A good night’s sleep on a regular basis helps repair muscle fibers and keeps the immune system strong. If you have a hectic schedule that prevents you from getting enough sleep, you may want to go to bed earlier and reset your sleep schedule on your recovery day.
Looking forward to a regularly scheduled rest day can help you stay focused and motivated. As you press on toward your fitness goals, remember to give your body and mind a break. You just may reach your goals faster and in better condition.