Many running injuries can be avoided by proper training, but many runners look at rest days as a four letter word. They feel that if they don’t train every day they will lose what they have gained, so they train at the same distance and intensity every day. Not only is this an ineffective way to progress, but it also puts you at higher risk of developing running injuries.
What Is A Rest Day?
A rest day is not running at a slower speed because your body is burnt out. It’s a recovery day. Depending on your level of fitness, it can be a shorter, slower paced run, a cross-training day or a even a complete day off. Unfortunately too many runners are so short sighted that they think about their training from week to week instead of month to month. Stress about missing a single day is short sighted. The key to reaching your goals is consistency. Not training day to day or week to week, but month to month and year to year.
Running puts a lot of stress on your joints and muscles, and your body needs time to recover. Studies have shown that people who take at least one day off a week from running have a low risk of developing shin splints, stress fractures, knee injuries, and other overuse injuries. In addition, rest days are key to eliminating the by-products of muscle metabolism that makes you sore. Most runners need one to two days off from exercise every week. Even elite runners take rest days, even if they involve a cross-training workout such as swimming or cycling.
Running the same pace day after day doesn’t do much to help you progress your mileage or speed. You’ll actually run faster when you take rest days, because you’ll be fresh mentally and physically and won’t be as likely to miss training days due to running injuries.