Rest Days: Not a Waste of Life

Truth: I’m writing this post mostly for myself. I’ve been having a heck of a time taking rest days lately. I’ve declared 2014 my “year of speed,” and I want to get fast faster. Even though I know better, some little part of my brain tells me to stop being “lazy” and get in a workout to speed up the speeding up. So in order to remind myself (and you, of course) why it’s so important to rest and recover, I compiled quotes from people who know a lot more about running than I do.

Why rest days are necessary

  • “Optimal Stress + Optimal Rest = Optimal Progress.” (Guy Avery, quoted by Greg McMillan in You, Only Faster, p. 233)
  • “Too many runners ‘under-rest’ after hard training and racing and thus stunt their fitness progress. . . . We get excited about training and train too hard, too soon, and too often, resulting in escalating fatigue and injuries.” (Greg McMillan in You, Only Faster, p. 233)
  • “A day off every seven to 14 days restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, and reduces fatigue. Without recovery, adaptation may occur short-term, but ultimately it will fail.” (Ed Eyestone, in this Runner’s World article)

  • “All runners need rest, of course. Even the fittest and most experienced runners can get into trouble if they try to go more than four weeks or so without a solid rest day.” (Matt Fitzgerald, in this Competitor article).
  • “Rest days are as vital as training days. They give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Actually, your muscles will build in strength as you rest. Without recovery days, you will not improve.” (Hal Higdon, here)
  • “If you train too hard on a scheduled recovery day, then you’ll be a bit too tired for your next hard day, and that workout won’t go as well as planned. If you’re like most runners, you’ll be ticked off, and you’ll run your next scheduled recovery day a bit harder. So begins a vicious cycle . . . . The result is mediocre performances in training and racing.” (Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, in  Advanced Marathoning, 2nd edition, p. 61-62, italics mine).

Oh. Mediocrity is just what I wanted to avoid, isn’t it? So, have we all learned something here today? Yes. When the plan says rest, REST!

Do you struggle with rest days, or do you like them? 

What’s your favorite way to spend a rest day?

13 thoughts on “Rest Days: Not a Waste of Life”

  1. Last Thurs (a designated rest day) I came home from work and felt like I was pacing and being lazy. Of course, I told myself that a quick and easy 3 mile run wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I found something to occupy my time and did not do it. I try to make myself rest 2 days/week because the longer and harder I work out, the sooner I burn out. My legs are always tired all the time anyway so I tell myself rest is good. Yoga is a great thing to do on a rest day!

  2. I hate rest days!! I understand the dichotomy… we want to get better/faster/stronger… yet how do we do that by sitting on our ass one day a week!? Hahaha. My resolution this year was to take 1 rest day per week. And I am doing it! (Actually this month I am taking a little more than 1 a week due to my surgery but that is out of my control!) I try to schedule my rest day on a day I have a ton of commitments so I don’t get anxious about the fact that I didn’t workout. I also try to be mindful of what I eat on those days, but my goal is to stop worrying about that. Someday… Good luck with your rest days! Seriously, if I can do it, you can do it.

  3. I am reading You Only Faster right now! I met Greg a few weeks ago and he spoke at our club banquet. I have the opposite problem, I am an over-rester 🙂

  4. I loved all those quotes! Rest days are so important! I learned that during my half trainings. I remember training for my first and debating whether or not to take one or two days off before the actual half. I decided to test it out with my long mile runs. I took two days off before my second 10 miler and beat my previous time by 6 minutes 🙂 (It may have helped that a dog was chasing me!)

  5. I need to print off this post as a reminder! I have been better with Rest days so far this year though. I take my Fridays off, which works well for me since I’m exhausted from the work week by then. 🙂

  6. I take a rest day once a week, minimum. Sometimes, not often, I take two. My body doesn’t due well without it. It’s hard to remember though. Like the quotes you posted said, we get excited about our training and want to see more results!

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