The Short Version:
– Stress is stress and comes from MANY sources, not just training volume/intensity – we all have a limit to how much our body/mind can handle
– Rest is a key component to proper training (it allows your body to adapt) and getting the most out of yourself race day (and avoiding injury)
– A couple of days off mid training cycle for illness/exhaustion is not going to result in fitness lost (in fact, it can actually make you better come race day)
The Long Version:
We runners are VERY good at getting into routines, following training plans, and putting in all the miles but NOT so good at taking rest days. Sometimes the hardest part of training is knowing when to recover despite what your *brain* might be telling you.
I am here to offer you this friendly reminder during a VERY stressful & exhausting time of the year — STRESS IS STRESS. Stress includes training stress, of course, but also a myriad of other factors:
– Illness (tis the season)
– Lack of sleep
– Mental health
– Emotional stress
– Non-running physical activity
– Life changes/stress (lots of factors here!! Including holiday stress!)
We are never at net-zero and all have a limit to how much stress our bodies & mind can handle (image 2 & 3 for visual!), so that is where REST comes in. Sometimes taking an extra day or two off from running when those other stressors are high (you caught a virus or worked an extra 20 hours or that MIL you love to hate is staying with you or your toddler is teething ) can save us from showing up to race day lacking full energy or worse, having to take forced time off (often more than a couple days) due to injury/burnout* during a training cycle.
*As a reminder: when you train and increase your volume(mileage)/intensity, you are actually creating micro tears in your muscles and over time if you don’t take rest days and get good sleep (which is when your body repairs itself), the muscles can’t repair (which causes them to be stronger) and you end up with mental burnout or injury. Rest days are important for your body to adapt to the training.
The good news is if you are having a hard time taking that time off when needed, there are lots of other options besides running to get yourself a fix thru cross training and other lower impact activities (like walking, swimming, biking, hiking, elliptical, yoga). So the next time you catch a cold/virus or your work or family have you feeling over the edge, think twice about forcing a run when your body says no (or even if it doesn’t!). Taking a couple days COMPLETELY OFF is not going to set you back in the grand scheme of cumulative training. And your body will thank you come race day. [And if you are REALLY struggling with this, reach out to one of the many coaches involved with HCS for help and guidance (myself included!!).]
Here is to kicking off 2024 strong AND SMAHT. When in doubt, REST baby!!!