I was surprised the other week when two of my fellow runners turned up for our Monday night club run. Both had completed half marathons the day before, but here they were back in training, even pushing the pace.
With marathon training in full swing for many of us, it’s easy to get caught up in the buzz and be tempted to skimp on rest. Here are some typical inner voices that can lead us astray:
“I’m not doing my target weekly mileage yet. If I don’t up it soon it will be too late.” Alternatively, “I’m feeling great – this is the perfect time to increase my mileage”
“My club mates are all starting to look sharp. I need to add some more sessions to give me an edge.”
“I’m an experienced runner. Sure my legs are feeling tired, but my base fitness is good so I’m fine to push on through.”
It’s worth reminding ourselves of the importance of rest, physically and psychologically.
Physically rest lets the body recover, allowing muscles to repair and our immune system to regenerate. It reduces the risk of injury. It helps us maximise the benefits of subsequent training sessions and so ensure progression.
Psychologically it’s so easy to become stale, particularly on one’s long training runs. Being well rested restores mental freshness.
So that’s why we should rest. What about how? Again we probably know this, but it’s worth reminding ourselves.
Try to take the occasional full rest day, despite work and family commitments. Mix “heavy” days with lighter days or cross training, particularly swimming. Consider foam rolling, massage or ice baths for muscle soreness. Lastly, and so easy to ignore, try to get enough sleep.
We'll leave the last word with Chrissie Wellington, four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion.
"Rest/recovery is not weakness or failure. It’s fundamental to success."