October 2019 - Rest Days

The Question

October's question was from Chloe in Raynes Park. Chloe doesn't want a break:

I run pretty much every day and don't seem to have a problem with it. Other runners and physios and whoever I speak to tells me it's so so important to have a day off. But do I need to if I don't feel like it?

- Chloe, Raynes Park

Matt - running coach
Matt - Athletics coach and distance runner

“Well I'm afraid I'm going to join the chorus on this one and say that yes, you should definitely be taking a rest day once every four to five days.

Without wishing to repeat what the others have told you, you must allow your body to recover from the training and racing exertions you've put it through. If you don't, you risk injury and becoming run down with fatigue. You'll also, from a basic performance level, not be able to reach the goals you've set yourself in terms of racing.

You can of course have active rest days if necessary. This can include a relaxing yoga or stretching session for example. Anything that can help alleviate the wear and tear that has built up on your body.

Rest days are best taken the day before a big race and immediately after. Another way to distribute your rest days in your training programme would be to analyse the training block and place them at the end of a series of tough training sessions

Simon - running coach
Simon - Middle-distance runner and athletics coach

“This is a very individual thing and will depend on a variety of factors such as genetics, training history and volume and intensity of sessions. Certainly, some sort of rest is required between sessions, but whether that's a full day, a night's sleep, a nap, or a few hours is very individual.

Most elite distance runners will train twice a day on most days. For such runners, simply cutting back to a single run on one of the days will provide opportunity for a rest. In contrast, beginners can often only manage two or three sessions a week.

If you enjoy running almost every day and you aren't getting injured then there is probably no harm in doing so, but I would strongly suggest that you are not getting the most out of your training if you're not taking longer rests sometimes. And obviously, if your physio has recommeneded certain rest days in response to a specific injury then that advice should be taken seriously.

You don't mention what type of training you're doing, but it may be worth experimenting a little with taking a day's rest before and/or after a harder session or a longer session. If you find a day's rest before means you're able to go significantly harder or that you don't find the session as demanding then that is a sign that the rest is beneficial. If you find you bounce back more quickly after taking a day off after sessions, than that's a good indiciation that it's worthwhile. If you really hate taking days off completely then buffer your harder sessions with shorter and easier runs.”

Our Member's Answer

October's member's answer was from Roy in Lewes. Roy sees no problem with running all the time:

Roy - never stops running

“If you don't feel like you need a rest then don't take one. Now I'm getting a bit older I walk on some days instead of running but for the best part of the last ten years I have exercised almost every day if I'm not ill. The great Ron Hill ran for over 50 years without a day off!”

Keep running, Roy!

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