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To Rest or Not to Rest

Posted Jul 30 2010 12:00am

Half Marathon Training Update WEEK 4

Fri. 7/30 – rest/cross training. Ah rest days – I love them. This morning with the humidity being way down and the temps in the 60′s, it was perfect for walking outside! I walked probably a couple miles and did about 30 minutes on the AMT followed by 15 minutes of arms/abs.

Despite my pre-workout snack, my stomach was growling when I got home!

Breakfast was a Carrot Cake Scuffin topped with a little almond butter and coconut + a PBJ Banana

Oh so good. After this I was at the “sort of full, but if I don’t eat anything else I’ll need a snack when I get to work” point, so I figured I really should just have another scuffin, ya know, for my own good ;) That makes 2 1/2 of these I’ve had today! I must like them or something…

I love getting foods ideas from bloggers…they are way better (and more honest) than any other recipes site I’ve found. Thanks, Angela !

With running (and other sports/activities) incorporating some form of rest (total off days, easy days, or cross training) are so important. People seem to have different perspectives on how much rest is good and what defines “rest.” I think every runner’s/exerciser’s body is different, and it’s important to find what works best for you.

While I was training for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in 2009 (to try to qualify for Boston ), I had a trainer tell me that my program was not good because it did not involve 1 rest day every week. I tried to explain to her that the Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday were super easy days (3-5 miles at an easy pace), and that worked better for me because it allowed me to recover after the harder days. Also, I was putting in a fair number of miles (40-50) but the workouts were spaced in a way that just worked really well for me:

Monday: easy

Tuesday: tempo run (6-10 miles with 20-30 minutes of 10k pace in the middle)

Wednesday: easy

Thursday: speed work (600/800 repeats, Fartlek’s, etc.)

Friday: easy

Saturday: a run “at goal marathon pace”

Sunday: long run

Well she was pretty set in her view and told me I would probably injure myself. Well, that was the last time I sought her advice. (And I ended up qualifying…by 14 minutes.)

Something that really annoys me: when a trainer, doctor, or anyone in a health-related profession (a) does not really listen to me or (b) thinks they know more about my body than I do. Can’t stand it.

Anyway, I think whether you need a total rest day or not depends on the types of workouts you are doing (i.e. multiple speed workouts/tempo runs might mean you need a rest day), how fast your muscles recover, whether you have any minor injuries/problem areas, etc. Over time you play with things and get to know what’s right for you.


- It’s better for me (like I mentioned above) to have multiple “easy” days during the week to let my joints and muscles recover after tougher workouts. This allows my workouts to be higher quality – I’d rather put in fewer good miles than a ton of junk miles.

- I don’t usually take total rest days (if I do, I probably do a lot of walking around) UNLESS I am injured or something is acting up.

- Cross-training (biking, elliptical, etc.) is helpful for me to build strength in different muscle groups and get stronger without putting in more miles (I am not one of those people who could withstand 70-80 miles per week – my knees would probably kill me).

For more info, here are a couple of good articles I found on the topic:

The Rest is Easy: Why you have to back off in order to push hard (Runner’s World)

Take Advantage of Light Days and Rest Days (

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