Why Rest? Why Cross Train?

After last week of being sick I began to ask myself, when do I take a rest day.  Will I take a rest day if I’m very sick?  If I have a head cold?  If I’m sore?  If I’m achey?  If I have the flu?  If it’s raining or my garmin has died?  What qualifies in my mind (personally) as the need for a rest day?  I suppose this differs for everyone.  Some people can run on little sleep, without a garmin, without friends, in the 35 degree rain…some people can’t.  Some people are injury prone…some aren’t.

First I am probably the most paranoid person for injury.  Since I’m pretty clumsy and run the spectrum of injuries, stress fracture, knee problems, falling and breaking my arm on ice, getting hit by a cylist and remember that cyst that cut me out of training for 3 months?  Instead of linking to all those posts I’ll just link to my injury post.

Needless to say I am very injury prone.  Though my only real running injury came from improper training in 2011 (tibial stress fracture), I have had multiple other injuries from doing stupid things.  Like frolicking on ice and breaking my arm.

I love the Maury show and drama so you’re welcome.

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I am very open with there have been a very workouts I wish I didn’t doI wish I had rested and honestly I felt no better afterwards.  The  entire duration of the workout I just felt sick, not feeling great and not feeling like I got anything accomplished but making myself worse.  This could just be me though but I’ve found “light cardio” does not help me if I feel sick.  Rest and recovery does.

Things that immediately qualify me to take a rest day:

  1. If I didn’t get enough sleep.  I don’t like to work out on minimal sleep and I have always felt terrible doing so.  I know there is a motivational poster that floats around on pinterest that says “the only workout you regret is the one you don’t do” I don’t agree.  I would almost always rather sleep in then get in a morning workout if I didn’t get 8 hours of sleep.  I do not function well on less.  (I suppose I’m a high maintenance sleeper).
  2. If I’m sick.  If I’m sick I normally feel like dirt to begin with and I normally didn’t sleep well the night before.  So I won’t have a productive run and I’ll be grumpy before, during and after.  So no working out for me.
  3. If I feel any sort of injury coming on.  If it’s a deep pain, a weird stretched muscle, something just feels weird I absolutely will not run on it.  It takes one stupid move to run on a small injury and bam stress fracture or some serious injury. I would know because it led to my stress fracture.  (which I can attest to poor training).  If it doesn’t feel better with a day or two of rest I will follow it up with a deep tissue massage and perhaps light cross training (if it doesn’t aggravate the injury).  Every single “niggle” I have had has been cured with this solution (so far so good).
  4. If I’m sore or my body is begging for a rest day.  I don’t plan rest days but normally once a week my body is saying “hey girl, let’s curl up on the couch and catch up on all those DVR shows you recorded”.  Then I oblige, watch tv and twitter all day long.

I think those are the biggest reasons I’ll take a rest day.  If I notice an injury I will sometime cross train or sometimes take a full rest day.  Either way I will not do anything that I feel is aggravating it.  Taking one rest day is not going to destroy your training like taking 2 months off because of an injury.

Here are some situations that I think it’s beneficial to do a light, short run or cross train.

  1. When you are sore.  If you can distinguish the feeling of soreness versus potential injury soreness I think a light run will do you wonders.  I read (somewhere ? I cannot find the article again) that doing a light run after a hard workout or race is beneficial.  I have always found that doing a shakeout run 6-8 hours post race allows blood flow and I normally feel a lot better than if I allow acid to fester there.  I will say I normally say that I have never regretted a shakeout run post race.  (obviously I did no shakeout after the marathon…lord knows I couldn’t move).
  2. If I am feeling lazy.  Sometimes it’s cold, rainy or miserable and I’m honestly not in the mood to run in the slightest.  After making every excuse I can come up with and knowing I’ll probably be miserable running…I settle for some cross training.  I wish I could tell you I push through laziness and run every time I’m not feeling it, but I don’t.  I cross train 75% of the time but once I’ve made up my mind not to run I normally don’t turn back.

So those are my personal rules and thoughts of whether I will run or cross train or rest.  It is much easier for me since I am uncoached and don’t follow a specific plan.  That is one reason I do enjoy being uncoached (I guess) is that if I’m generally tired, sick, ect I do have the option to take off.  I am absolutely sure a coach would allow me to take off if I was sick or wasn’t feeling well but I have found it easier this way.

Finally, as you all know I entered a contest by ZOOMA to win an entry for myself and a reader to the Napa Race they are hosting.  The credentials include being  an “inspirational blogger” and living a healthy lifestyle.   One of my dreams is to run a race on the West Coast so I would really appreciate it if you were able to vote for me.  You can vote every day.  Thank you again for your support throughout my running and blogging journey.  I’ll probably be posting this daily because you can vote daily.  I am a bit sorry if it get’s obnoxious but I really really want to win.  I even created a little photo of me on the side.  Now you can stare at my face smiling and running for the next month.  So please help make my dream come true and vote daily.  🙂

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Question for you: What determines if you will  cross train or rest?