So today as I'm writing this I am taking a rest day. Usually I take a rest day every Monday, but last week due to rain and mud I took three days off of running. The three days before Christmas. It was a good break and a time to relax. Then I ran on Christmas and yesterday. Now it may seem weird to take a rest day today, after taking three days off last week but those were different. Those three days were "Christmas days," days where I enjoyed the holidays with my family and avoided the dreaded mud. Today is a day of working out and consciously recovering from running, not that I wasn't doing that on the three days last week, they're simply two slightly different approaches to the day.
So today I am enjoying myself and resting. I just finished my workout, I slept in, my mom, sister, and I are going to undo the Christmas decorations. So it's going to be an easy and casual day. I am making a good dinner tonight, which I am looking forward to, and I am staying present in the day.
Why are Rest Days vital?
As endurance athletes, heck even as people in the world. Each day breaks us down. The miles and miles, hours and hours that I put into the trails everyday breaks me down. The muscles get sore, the mind gets tired, the body gets destroyed. So why shouldn't we take one day out of seven to recover? I think we should. I know we should. Fitness increases with proper recovery and as such I think we should all take a rest day. Now it's not a day to be lazy and get nothing done. No. It's a day to workout, do some functional exercises, read, write, listen, laugh, talk, stretch, take a bath, relax, but always keep in mind that it is a day of recovery and not laziness.
Especially as we quickly approach a new year remember that a new year is always a chance to make change. But you have to commit to it. So I strongly recommend in an effort to more effectively combat stress to include committed rest days in 2017, every week. Your body NEEDS a day to recuperate, because without it your fitness and your mindset will not only plateau, but decline greatly.
When should you have a Rest Day?
I personally think the best time to take a rest day is in the beginning of the week. I take mine on Mondays most weeks. I know everyone's schedule is different, but I think you should try to include your rest day closer to the beginning of the week if you can. Another important thing, I believe, is to keep your rest day consistent as much as you can. Pick a day and run with it (pun intended ;)
How can you make your Rest Day count?
On your rest day make sure you keep in mind that it is for recovery. Go throughout your day with a mindset of getting back to a hundred percent, after the last week broke you down. Eat well, workout well, feel a little discomfort and suffering still, enjoy yourself, and have a good time on a day that breaks the norm.
Some Important Activities/Foods/Things to incorporate into your Rest Day:
- Functional Exercises (Glute work, Hips, Core)
- Green Smoothies
- Read a good book
- Good music
- Solid and good breakfast, lunch, and dinner (this isn't a cheat day, so don't go crazy)
- Bath (maybe add some Epsom Salts)
- Write about or think about your last week
- BE PRESENT!
So as you go through this week incorporate a rest day, if you don't already. Keep in mind these reasonings and suggestions. If you incorporate a healthy and beneficial rest day into your weekly regimen you will most definitely notice an increase in your fitness, your life, and your experience. So go out and rest hard! :)
Thank you as always. Enjoy this last week of 2016, think back on 2016 and be grateful for what it has brought you, not angry for what it has not.