I feel like my body is trying to tell me something… and it’s been a common theme for me this week – fatigue. I have been over training, not to an extreme, but certainly a touch too much and it has taken a toll. I am grateful my nutrition has been so solid the last few weeks or I would REALLY be hurting. As a runner (and blossoming tri-athlete), I log a lot of miles each week on the pavement, treadmill, and in the saddle. Truth be told, I LOVE to train. I really do. Even the bad days when I am tired or sore, I look forward to it as it is a time for me to let my mind relax and let me do something for myself so it’s hard to disengage, even when I know I should. However, there is nothing like that first hard run off a rest or easy day. When your legs are fresh and nimble and it’s easy to stretch out your stride and really get after your pace.
Even when major events are on the horizon, it’s critical to take off a day once a week, where you let your body recover. On my rest days, I do a lot of stretching – 30 minutes or more to really take care of my muscles and keep them nice and limber. In addition to “rest days”, there are “easy days” where you run/do cardio but with a deliberate relaxed pace . There is a difference between easy days and rest days and the benefits are distinctive.
How It Helps:
Prevents overuse injuries
Restores glycogen stores
Prevents mental burnout
How Often: Once a week
How Easy: Off completely or 20 to 30 minutes (or 2 to 4 easy miles) below 60% of max heart rate
How It Helps:
Increases blood volume
How Often: 80 to 85% of total weekly mileage (when not event training)
How Easy: 70 to 75% of max heart rate or conversational pace at comfortable to moderate effort
So take a day, (mine is TODAY) to hang up your running shoes and let yourself relax. I like to add a hot jacuzzi bath and sometimes even a glass of red wine to really look forward to and enjoy my day off. Don’t let your nutrition slack on this day, you aren’t expending the calories the same way, but definitely enjoy those fleeting days where you look forward to the next run and restore your mental and physical well-being.