Andy Hawthorne

Andy Hawthorne

Projects, photos and running

16 May 2020

How to Take a Rest Day From Running

Reading time: 3 minute(s) - 600 words

How to Take a Rest Day From Running

I hate rest days. Because it means I can’t go and run. But before we get any further, remember this: rest days are an important part of the training process.

The sun was rising and throwing that golden light all around. The sky was coloured with a palette of a thousand shades. And the birds were singing their morning chorus.

Me? I felt like I’d been run over by a bus.

This was my tenth consecutive day of running. It was set to be another glorious July day - it was already warm even though the world was only waking up. None of that mattered to me, though. I was plain knackered.

But my shorts were on and my (battered) trainers were on my feet. I was doing this.

I’d gone no more than a mile and the trouble started. My legs were heavy and sore. My upper body was still in bed. And I couldn’t get a regular breathing pattern going at all.

But I ran on anyway. Assuming things would settle down. Assuming that the lovely morning would lift me and I’d smash out another good run.

“I’ve put in some great runs lately,” I thought. “This one will sort itself out.”

Except it wasn’t going to, of course.

I struggled on through our local country park. I did become aware of how beautiful the early morning was. The air smelled of summer. And the colours were a riot of shades and tones. The trouble was, I was seeing it all through a mist of pain.

I struggled on for another couple of miles. And then came to an abrupt stop. I walked the last mile and a bit home.

So, what was the issue?

Simple, really. I was tired. Pure and simple. I’d put in 90+ miles in the last ten days. I’d run several PB’s. I’d run off-road and on tarmac. It had been great.

But now? I was in severe need of a rest.

The truth was, I should have taken a rest several days earlier. Then, I would have been able to keep going.

“Adapting” days

Part of my problem with rest days is the idea that you’re just not running. I read somewhere that one way to settle it in your mind is to call them adapting days.

I dug around and found the source. It was running coach and author Jason Koop that describes it that way.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. An adapting day is where you let your body take on the training effect that you’ve been putting it through. Your are letting your body adapt to the new level of fitness.

Whatever you call them, rest days are essential. Because if you keep piling the pressure on, all that work will get lost.

It’s like pouring a pint. Just enough and you fill the glass. Keep the tap on and it starts to overflow. Nobody wants beer going into the spill trays.

When do you fit them in?

You rest when your body tells you to rest. That means you have to learn to listen to it.

The one I still spot the easiest is when I run but struggle more than usual. A slight drop-off in performance is indicative of trouble coming.

Better to take a rest now, before the trouble arrives.

The bottom line? Let your body adapt to the training. And your running will improve. Take a rest to run faster.

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