Runners are typically terrible resters. Type A, power-through-the-pain types make lousy patients and very rarely take the time to rest. I am guilty of it, too, so I’m not throwing rocks in glass houses. However, I have found over the past year that I am a much better runner and overall human being when I take time for myself and rest my weary body. I do two-a-days (run & yoga/lift), take back-to-back spin classes, push hard in speed drills, make plans for every second of my day, stay up late doing homework, get up before the sun to get a run in and generally wear myself thin wherever possible. I ALSO make sure I have a couple of days a week where I have several hours to myself. To do whatever. Mani/pedi, nap, watch the latest Netflix movie, stay in my PJs all day, clean out my closets, and I always have one day a week when I do not workout. It’s called active rest. I live in New York City, so walking is how I get to and fro, but I don’t do a run, take a class or lift a weight all day. I let my body rest and recover.
Here’s the thing: resting will make you a better athlete. It will allow for your body to recover and generate new muscle fibers, repair old ones, and allow for you to physically be ready for the next challenge. For me, rest helps to keep my flare-ups in check. Too much rest makes me batty, but just enough keeps me from stressing out and, in turn, getting sick (or sick-er, sometimes).
Go crazy sometimes, have a drink. Then sleep in the next morning!
Here’s a good way to figure out if you need a rest day: keep a stopwatch and a pen next to your bed. Every morning before you sit up or get out of bed, take your heart rate. Over a week’s time you should start to see what your normal resting heart rate is and where/when it isn’t. If you figure that yours is, say, 50 beats per minute, you know that you will need to rest that day if you wake up and it’s 58+. You see, when you are sleeping, your body goes into repair mode, kind of like sending a car to the body shop. If you wake up and find that your resting heart rate is 15% (or more) higher than normal, the mechanics haven’t finished their work and you need to leave it in the shop that day. That way, you will be working with fresh muscles, new cells and will be able to perform at tip-top form.
I’m off to Flywheel this morning with my fabulous cousin, Chi-Chi. And then we’re going to have a spa day at my favorite NYC spot. Can. Not. Wait. Take a day off from running to spend it with one of your favorite people at a spa? Don’t mind if I do. It’s a very big day in New York and I’m looking forward to celebrating with all my peeps tomorrow after the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5-miler. See you there?
Now go out and run…but before you do, tell me how you like to spend a rest day!