Running Rest Days – An Essential Part of Training

When we run, we produce a series of adaptations in our bodies that allow us to progress and improve. And with this mentality, a lot of runners neglect running rest days.

When our body performs physical activity, it’s suffering a load and stress caused by this activity (Action), when it’s resting it is when the adaptations (Reaction) occur at the physiological, metabolic, and muscular level, where all muscle tissues involved in physical activity will be repaired.

In other words, during resting is where the real improvements occur.

Running Rest Days as Part of the Training

Numerous studies around rest show that only 30% of the people admit sleeping the recommended hours, about 7-9 hours and, what is worse, approximately more than 50% of the general population presents difficulties in falling asleep, 32% report having a non-restorative sleep and up to 35% of the population ends the day with signs of fatigue and drowsiness.

Therefore, it is undoubtedly important to consider rest as an integral part of training, and that is why we refer to “active rest,” to consciously underline the intention that entails, putting our attention, and our energy on optimal recovery.

running rest days

It is also essential to rest to be able to clear ourselves of our usual running activity and to disconnect at a psychological level from running so that we can do activities of all kinds other than running itself and enjoy other hobbies.

Running Rest Days Recommendations

– Incorporate sleep as a “healthy lifestyle” sleeping the necessary hours according to age (7-9 hours in adults).

– Maintain a balanced diet and perform regular exercise to promote sleep and overall health.

– Control the appropriate environmental conditions for rest (temperature 18-21º, silence, darkness, adequate mattress).

– Maintain regular sleep-wake schedules.

– Avoid self-medication to sleep more.

Tips to Improve your Sleep and Recovery

In sport at all levels (from high performance to amateur) rest is very important since you have to know how to combine both aspects (training + rest/leisure) and thus have an effective sports practice and enjoying what you do.

Remember that adequate restful sleep:

– Segregation of cortisol, stress hormone decreases.

– It improves our mood.

– Regulates metabolic functions, such as carbohydrate processing and storage.

– Promotes a correct metabolization of sugar, controlling the levels of leptin and ghrelin, responsible for the sensation of hunger.

– Studies relate a restful sleep with a lower rate of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and risk of heart attacks.

– It is essential for the consolidation of new learning and cognitive memory processes.

Rest Day Final Thoughts

One of the best ways to recover properly and make the most out of your training is to have a good night sleep.

Rest days are as important as your long runs or speed sessions, without giving your body the proper rest time and recovery, your body will have a hard time adapting to the training and your improvements will be hindered.

Rest, please rest, and believe that it will make you a better runner.

Diego Alcubierre, a passionate runner and coach, started his journey at 26 with a 10k time of 1:06:23 and has since slashed 30 minutes off his personal record. With five running and coaching certifications, Diego is committed to sharing his expertise and proven strategies to help runners of all levels enhance their performance, stay motivated, and enjoy the journey of running. At Bannister, he simplifies complex training concepts, empowering you to achieve your running goals.