No Rest for the Weary

There is one commandment that regularly shows up on lists of “10 Commandments for Runners” and that is:

“Remember to Keep Holy The Rest Day.”

Amen.

Well, find me a confessional, for I have sinned. It has been 29 Days since I signed up for the Spartan 30 Day Challenge of running (or walking) at least one mile per day for 30 days. I have kept to the challenge. I have run in snow. I have run on ice. I have run in the bitter cold. I have (reluctantly) run on the treadmill. I have even run in snowshoes. I have chosen to run instead of walk all but 1 day, when I had a root canal repaired (yes, that is as horrible as it sounds). On almost all of the days, I have run more than the required one mile or have combined the mile with a spin session on my bike.

I have stretched. I have slept well. I have eaten (pretty) well. I have taken my vitamins. And I still feel like a broken down jalopy. Aches, pains, creaks, tightness? Check, check, check check. I feel like an 80 year old woman when I get out of bed in the morning. It ain’t pretty.

If I didn’t believe in rest days before, well, consider me converted. My mileage has not been terribly high – nothing like the mileage I was running last summer and fall. The main difference in my training this past month has been the lack of rest days. And what an impact it has had on my body. Despite my tendencies to overdo just about everything, I have always been pretty good about taking rest days, at least until this 30-day challenge. I always knew I felt better after a rest day, but never envisioned how poorly I would feel without them . Until now. Ouch.

After this challenge wraps up tomorrow, I’ll be back to regular rest days, for sure.

I’ve done the reading; I’ve done the research. Rest days are good for all sorts of things, such as prevention of injuries, joint recovery, glycogen restoration and avoidance of mental burnout.

But no amount of research can drive the point home more than feeling like hell does.

Consider this a warning, couch: we have a lengthy date on Thursday.

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11 thoughts on “No Rest for the Weary

  1. Nice post, I notice so many people talking about their running streaks they are currently doing and it’s nice to hear someone talk about how important it is to actually rest as well! During your normal routine how often do you take rest days?

    • I think that one of the biggest new runners (or new distance runners) make is feeling that a rest day will set them back. Truly, it is the opposite. Never feel guilty for taking a rest day!!!
      When I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon last fall, I was running 10-15 miles more per week than I have during this stretch and my body felt better. I always take at least one total rest day – meaning not only no running, but no cycling or other form of cross-training, either – per week. When I was training for the marathon and had some really long distance runs, I took at least 2 days off per week. Sometimes 3. I also always take the day off before a race; sometimes 2 if I feel creaky.

  2. One of the reasons I’ve never liked Janathon and other running streaks is because of the emphasis on more, more, more. I am a firm believer in rest days, and I learned it the hard way. I think we all work so hard to get in shape that we’re afraid to take a day off, thinking we’ll lose conditioning.

    • I think that most people with the temperament for distance running have to learn the importance of rest days the hard way! It’s in our DNA!

      I figured this challenge would be pretty easy – 1 mile per day? And I can walk it? Of course the truth is, I don’t want to walk it and I rarely stop at one mile. The challenge itself has not been very difficult to meet, but man, I feel beat up.

      Knock wood, I have been relatively injury-free these past few years and I think that resting regularly has helped to keep it that way.

  3. Well Miss Crazy Pants, the challenge was 1 Mile a day of walking, running, cartwheeling, crawling whatevs. You went all bananas. (Truth be told, so did I. With the exception of The Flu which really wasn’t a rest day. It was more like an incapacitated day.) Embrace Thursday on the couch. You deserve it lady. 🙂

    And ps. I’m exhausted.

    xoxo,
    Colby

    • I can’t cartwheel for one mile, or I would have tried that. Too cold and snowy to crawl. Of course I went bananas, which is part of why you love me so much. But I HATE the first mile. Seems horrible to stop running just when things are getting better, y’know? And the spinning…well, I just started watching “Breaking Bad” starting with the first episode while I spin. It’s a miracle I ever get off the damn bike!
      The flu does not count as a rest day. It’s just a different – grueling – workout. Your poor lungs.

      • They don’t know what hit them. Poor things. They LOVED ME after my long run on Saturday, trail run on Sunday. And then my Snow Run yesterday……
        Rest day to come. Promise.

    • The main benefit I see of the 30 day challenge is for newish runners to get moving (hopefully walking some of the time) for 30 days to get into a groove. For experienced runners, it kinda hurts. I don’t have a race until 3/1, so figure no harm, no foul if I’m wiped out. That said, I’ll be very happy to resume normal training with rest days.

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