So, yesterday was my rest day, and true to my inner desire to veg out for 24 hours straight (wait, don’t we all have that?), I put laziness at the top of my list for the majority of the day.
I ate, I lounged, I watched a movie without multitasking (note…a very hard endeavor for me), I ate some more, and I went to bed early. Now, although it may seem that I’m pretty pro at being a slug, having a day like this is typically very hard and bothersome to me—and it’s very hard for me to consciously take rest days.
I know this is similar to many runners, as we are psychologically wired to go! go! go!. We are at our happiest when we’ve sweat through some good miles, so the thought of going through a day without our usual dose of endorphins seems daunting. I know it seems a bit obsessive and unnecessary (and yes, often times it is), but it’s hard to come across a feeling better than right after finishing a long run. Personally, I am happier, more patient, more productive, and generally just nicer to be around when I’ve logged a morning run…seriously, ask any member of my family or my boyfriend, they will quickly agree.
I don’t necessarily love this about myself, and I’m trying to get better about reaping both the physical and mental perks of taking some R&R time. Obviously, as runners, our bodies take a lot of beating—therefore resting our muscles is essential. Anyone who tells you otherwise is fooling themselves and will end up injured before too long—trust me, I used to be that person. Rest from running can come in the form of crossing training, however it is important to take a day to let our bodies rest completely from activity. During this time, our muscles heal, strengthen, and become all the more apt to taking on the miles we use them for.
The other side of rest—the mental side—is a little bit trickier to wrap your brain around (at least if you’re me!), however once you get a grasp on it—it can be an even bigger rest incentive than the physical reasons. For instance: planning out a day to sleep in, lie on the couch, bake cookies, watch a favorite show, etc. offers a great break from the exercise routine we’re so dedicated to. A mental time-out is sometimes exactly what we need to revitalize our psyches, refocus our goals, and just give our overworked minds a BREAK!
I’ve realized that when I take a day off, it’s not because I’m lazy, I’m weaker than other runners, or I’m somehow falling away from the entire running community by taking 24 hours for zero activity. Of course it’s not! And I have, admittedly, thought these things. However, by treating my rest days as an essential part of my training—I’ve begun to recognize not only their necessity but also their impressive benefits for both my body and mind.
And for those of you still trying to decipher my cryptic title in this post: The first R&R should be obvious, but the last “R” stands for running…which I did this morning in the brisk 35 degree weather. I finished 10 shore-front miles with 8:30 splits, pink legs, and a re-energized mindset— I reckon mostly due to the sweat-free day beforehand.
How do you feel about rest days? Do you invite them? Despise them? When do you know rest for you is needed?