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Rest is Best

Rest is Best

Telling someone to rest is a lot easier than doing it yourself.  Telling someone to do ANYTHING is easier said than done.

Throughout my blogging journey, many people have emailed or asked my thoughts on topics including running, life, and you guessed it: rest.  If there is ever a question of should, I give my honest advice to rest and see how you feel.  If you are injured with a bone-related injury, always rest.  If you injured with a muscular related injury, sometime rest will help but sometimes it won’t.  Rest will never hurt you, and missing an individual run or even a week is nothing in the long scheme of things.

running Rest is Best

Anyway, I’m not a coach or doctor, so giving medical or training advice is not what this post is about.  I’m just a woman telling people to rest including myself.

In my training recap on Monday, I talked about my personal needs and why rest was best for me right now.  I’m often out of my house for 12+ hours a day.  That isn’t the whole day, and many people are out of their house longer.  I wish I could squeeze running in, but I would be more tired and more exhausted. Realistically, there wasn’t a point.  It was better for me to take a few days off, get quality sleep, focus on things currently going on, and regroup from there.

So this week, that is precisely what I did.  I definitely feel much better because of it.  I do think I might do a short run tomorrow and see how I feel.

Here are a Few Important Reasons to Rest:

Refocus Goals:

Right now I have no idea what I want to train for. Do I want to train for another marathon? How about a 5k PR? Maybe even try and better my half marathon PR? I have no clue.

Sometimes you just need to take time off regardless of whether you reached your goal or not.  With training, you put your body through a tough period.  It doesn’t matter if your body ends up in a PR or not, you still put yourself through tough training. Taking time off allows you to reflect, and think about what you want in the future.

Emotional Break:

As hard as it can be to admit this, running and training can be exhausting.  For me, running has never been a therapy of any kind.  It is never been my way to “escape the world”.  Training for a goal race can be exhausting.  I need time away from the sport to fall in love with it again, and I think we all do.

While it has only been a few days, I have already felt fonder of the sport again.  Today, Thursday, I want to run.  Last Thursday, I had no interest and even loathed the idea of running.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder:

For me, I like to crave running again.  I want to feel like I want to run!  Along the same lines of mental recovery, it’s important to want to run.  If you don’t start running again feeling “refreshed,” you’ll end up in a burn out longer and faster.

Recovery:

If you don’t allow your body time to recover from training stress, you will continue to feel worn down and it will take you longer to recover from runs (I began to feel this).

Injury:

As one of the most injury prone people out there, I’ve learned I do need extra rest and recovery. If you are not able to recover, your body will be more susceptible to injury. It is better to take a few days or week off early, than several months off with a serious injury.  I’m not injured now, but there have been a few times I should have rested to keep a minor injury from becoming serious.

Healing Small Aches and Pains:

Sometimes you have small aches and pains that you don’t realize you have.  An amount of time off, allows your body to heal.  Running every other day or every few days doesn’t let your body to heal as quickly.  By taking time off, your body will use more energy to recover versus recovering from daily runs as well as small aches and pains.

I never regret my running breaks.  This one will be short, but I’m getting to the point my legs and mind feel like they “want to run.”  Plus hopefully next week my schedule is a bit more forgiving to add it into my schedule.

Questions for you:

Do you take a break every year?

What are you currently training for?

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Training: Rest is also Training

Training: Rest is also Training

I had all of the intentions to run through the week, but then I felt like garbage.  On Monday I woke up sore, burned out, and not wanting to run.

So I didn’t.  I had the day off, and I decided to make a quick trip up to North Jersey and go hiking outside.  It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to be outside, but I didn’t want to run.  The hike was challenging but fun and I’m glad I enjoyed that.  While yes, running is my “primary workout activity,” it’s not the only thing I enjoy.  I enjoy hiking every bit as much as running.

hiking the palisades

The rest of the week I had no interest to run.  Each morning, I woke up and felt blah.  By Friday I thought I might go for a run but gave it another day.  My college coach once said: days off, saves months off.  I do believe if I hadn’t given myself a few days off, nothing would have changed.  My mentality is completely different from last week.

On Saturday, I ran a short run and I felt good.  It was the first time I actually wanted to get out there.  Things are not perfect, and I do feel as though my muscles need a lot of care.  I don’t feel bad, or sore, but my legs are tight.

Monday: Hiking the Palisades
Tuesday; Rest
Wednesday; Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday; Easy 30 minutes
Sunday: Easy 30 minutes

The goal until the April Fools Half marathon is to focus on recovery and rest.  I would love to get a workout that makes me confident in running again, but I don’t want to overdo anything.  Making it to the start and finish line is the most important to me.

I feel as though I’m progressing in the right direction with running, but I still have longer to go.

Posts of the Week:

Hiking the Palisades

Phillies 5k (19:07) 

Questions for you:

Have you ever felt burned out with running?  How do you get through it?

How was your Easter?

The “I Didn’t Workout” Training Post

The “I Didn’t Workout” Training Post

I didn’t train last week.  In fact, the only workout I did was go to the gym once and use the elliptical.  Truth be told, after the April Fools half marathon last weekend, I was (and still am) burnt out.  I had no interest in running last week and didn’t.  Heck, I might not even run this week.

The Broad Street 10 Miler is next Sunday, and it might be my next run back.  If I run (which for me is only 50/50 now), my only goal is to finish and enjoy myself doing so.  Having fun won’t be too difficult since both my parents and my inlaws are coming to visit.

So with that, this training post is one of the most boring I’ve ever written! 

Last year around this time, I wrote a post about taking rest and burnout.  That is relevant to me today and still where I am at.

As I mentioned last year, The idea of rest isn’t new, unusual, or life changing.  It’s important for every single runner, new or old, elite or not, to take rest.

I’m on week 2 of resting now (the end to be determined).  My ultimate goal is to start a new training cycle both physically and mentally happy.  I want to wake up excited to run again, not say “ugh I have to run”.

Here is a list of things I told myself I might accomplish during my rest week:

  • Spring Cleaning
  • Sort old Race Tshirts and mail them to Project Repat for a Quilt
  • Find a few new gym classes to consider

Here are Things I Actually Did:

  • I actually cleaned my kitchen (that was last Monday, and it needs to be cleaned again now)
  • Drank a lot of coffee and relaxed on the internet
  • Went to the gym once and live tweeted a man chugging an energy drink before his workout

So that is where I’m at this week!  PS: Happy May 1st!

Running Posts from the Week:
April Fools Half Marathon (1:26.17)
Running Related Posts
Asics Nimbus 19 Shoe Review

Questions for you:
Do you ever take rest weeks?
When was the last time you felt burnt out?

Why a Running Break is Necessary

To summarize my training last week, I ran once on Monday.  Then I got sick and slept for three days straight.  Not exaggerating, but I slept over 16 hours daily for three days.  By the fourth day, I still had a headache and didn’t want to run.  Finally, by day 5, I was already five days into not running, so I thought: “why not just extend my running break longer?”  I didn’t miss running at all. 
Why a running break is neccessary

So to recap, I ran once and haven’t run since Monday.  My plan this summer was to take an extended break from running and now worked out well.  I’m not sure how long I’ll take off, but I’ll run when I’m mentally ready to run again.

Instead of writing a traditional training post, I’ll talk about some reasons for resting.  The idea of rest isn’t new, unusual, or life-changing.  It’s essential for every single runner, new or old, elite or not, to take rest.

So what are some worries of taking a break from running?

Worry 1: You Worry about Losing Fitness

You aren’t running, and your body will lose fitness, and your vo2 max will decrease.  It’s a real statement.  The longer you don’t run and reduce your weekly mileage, the more likely you are to lose fitness.  However, studies show, you will gain fitness back quickly, and you will come back stronger.  A few weeks of training isn’t a big deal, and the benefits of taking the rest outweigh the consequence of losing fitness.

Worry 2: You’ll Gain Weight

I’ve gained a few pounds every time I’ve been injured.  That’s my body’s way of saying: “Hey, you are doing the recovery thing right.”  I used to think not running meant I should cross-train or strength train as much as I ran, but that isn’t the case.  Allowing your body rest might cause weight gain, but once you start running again, you will lose whatever you might have gained.

Yes, you might gain a few pounds but if you don’t rest and recover, the rest period doesn’t do you any good.  To clarify, I don’t think it’s easy and all rainbows and butterflies to take weeks off of running, but it’s necessary. 

For me, I’ve been running nonstop for about a year.  I’ve had cut back weeks and mini taper weeks but nothing considered significant rest.

My last two months of running, I’ve felt all of the following:

  • Physical Burnout: I’ve had more bad runs than good runs…
  • Mental Burnout: I’ve had more days I’ve felt like running is a chore and not a hobby.
  • Minor aches, issues, and pains: my butt hurt after Shamrock and metatarsal pain last month.

Most of the time, my running breaks come from a serious related running injury. Being injured forces me to take time off and give myself a break.  After resting, I come back stronger.  Since this break isn’t caused by an issue, it’s hard to “just take time off.”  I can rest when I want too, so I’ve pushed it off until tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow.

So what are the benefits of full running rest?

Not reduced mileage but full running rest and running o times a week.

Physical benefits:
  • Recovery: First and foremost, you’ll recover from months of possible damage to your body. The damage includes both hard races and just hard training cycles. Your body will recover from the stress that you’ve put on it.  You might not realize that you had several small aches and pains forming.
  • Injury Risk: Your injury risk goes much further down. It doesn’t matter your fitness level; a running break is the best form of injury prevention.

Mental Benefits:

  • Mental Recharge: This is the most important for me right now.  Mentally my heart isn’t into running, and it’s giving me time to recharge and do other things with my life.  When I miss running, I’ll start running.  It could be a week; it could be a month. You can’t run hard seven days a week and expect to run long term.
  • More Time: When you’re not following a training plan or training program, you have plenty of extra time to relax and get other things done.

Finally, How Can You Get the Most Out of Your Break?

  • First and foremost, actually rest.  Don’t substitute over cross-training for everything.  Sure, working out occasionally is fine but take your rest as serious as a big race and racing season.
  • Don’t fear weight gain: Like anything, your fitness is based on months and years.  You might lose fitness or gain weight, but you’ll get back to where you want to be when you return to running.

I can’t tell you how long my running rest will be.  Maybe I’ll run in another week, but perhaps it will be longer.  I did get in the pool on Sunday, which was more enjoyable than anticipated.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Outside of an injury, have you taken a break from running?

Have you felt burnt out from something before?

 

Sleep is Valuable

Sleep is something I value a lot.  I don’t run well on less than 8 hours of sleep.  There are obvious cases that less sleep cannot be avoided but for me sleep is really important.  I rank getting enough rest in the top five most important factors for my personal happiness.  I don’t have any issues telling people I’m going to bed at X time or I need to leave because I’m tired.  We are grown adults and no one can “judge” you for doing what’s best for you.

hotelbed

There should never be judgment to begin with but often times there is an (unnecessary) pressure to stay out late and to hang out longer.  Like I said this is completely unnecessary.

I’m not a doctor.  There are plenty of reasons why sleep plays an important role in your life.  I’m not here to tell you why and googling “why is sleep important” can yield thousands of results.

I’m here to tell you when I don’t get enough sleep I’m a grouchy human being, I’m hungry all the time and I want to drink all the caffeine I can get my hands on.  This cycle normally leads to a crash, napping and then not being able to sleep the next day.

I used to not sleep well.  Often times I would find myself tired and not sleeping through the night.  I didn’t understand why.  I later realized I was doing a few things to sabotage my sleep as well as I needed a new mattress.

Here are some things I’ve started doing to help me sleep better (and in my PERSONAL experience, have found them to work well)

Turn off technology before going to bed.  I stopped going to bed with an internet glow.  I turned off technology and don’t sleep with my cell phone in the bedroom.

I stopped drinking full leaded coffee after 1pm.  I used to drink regular coffee until around 2-3 but found one (and actually usually noon) is the latest I’ll have coffee.

I now change my sheets, pillowcase and entire bed linens more than once a week.  I used to alternate every 2 weeks but have found that more is better.  This means an unnecessary amount of laundry but I like to think of it as an awkward quirk I have.

Have a bed time snack.  I normally like to have a glass of milk as well as some sort of small bed time snack.  I wake up hungry in the morning and I have found going to bed full causes me to fall asleep very quickly and soundly.

I don’t struggle with this frequently (but I know some people do), but establishing a similar sleep pattern.  I go to bed and wake up the same time weather I’m working or not.  I’ve found having a fairly similar sleep pattern keeps my body conditioned to actually follow it.  I don’t go to bed at 3am some nights and 9pm other nights.

These are just things that I have found that work for me.  Sleep is such an important and key factor in your life and running.

Some of my favorite articles about sleep:

How to Get Better Sleep as a Runner 

Sleeping will make you faster 

Question for you: What do you do to promote sleep?

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