Rest Days are Key to Staying Healthy
Planning a full rest day into your routine can actually make you a better runner. Here’s how it works.
August 26, 2020Amanda Smith
Whether training for your next marathon or your first 5K, there is something crucial that can sometimes be neglected by women with a lot of ambition—rest (especially in the form of one full rest day).
When rest is neglected, training suffers. Adequate rest and nutrition throughout any training process are the best ways to ensure not only performance, but overall good health and injury prevention. According to the 2020 National Runner Survey, half of all respondents had an injury that kept them from running for four or more days in the last 12 months.
Fitting in rest days are crucial to keeping your body going in the long run. “It’s extra time to allow for all the, essentially, mechanical repair to go on in the body; production of collagen to repair tendons, muscles, bones, all those tissues taking some breakdown in normal exercise,” says Robert Wayner, PT, DPT, and director of the Ohio Center for Running Performance. A rest day also allows the body to build energy stores back up. “We know that our athletes, over a six-day training period, they may start the week off with full tanks and really good energy balance. But as the week wears on then, especially since some of their workouts are more demanding than others, those more demanding ones are going to take a longer period of time to essentially recoup from caloric energy-wise,” he says. One consequence of continually skipping the rest day and not allowing energy stores to build back up is developing Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) that Wayner says he sees runners fall into inadvertently.
A lot of runners feel guilt around taking a rest day, which comes as a result of a society that glorifies productivity and hyper-competitiveness. Those feelings are especially felt by women who try to ‘do it all.’ The reality is that you cannot train to your full potential if you never let off the gas. Eventually something will break down. For that reason, a group of runners created an Instagram account dedicated solely to idealizing rest where they show how runners like Colleen Quigley, Amelia Boone, or Molly Seidel spend their rest days.