3 Reasons Why Rest Days Are Important When Running & Exercising

I’m writing this during my recovery week. As a runner who’s cursed endowed with a type A personality, I’m not a big fan of rest days.  As I’m enduring them, I can’t help but wonder if I’m getting fatter (instead of fitter) by the minute.

In my defense, the reason I’m a running addict has nothing to do with obsessing over my body or performance stats. I run because I honestly love running. It helps me to focus, relieve stress, and leave the world behind. I could go on and on about running, but if you’re a runner, too I think you can relate. I’m just in my element when I’m running.

Still, your recovery is just as important as the miles you log.  It’s a crucial part of your exercise routine because it’s when you let your body repair and strengthen itself. Skipping proper rest is one of the biggest mistakes a runner can make.

What’s Recovery All About?

Recovery is what you do to maximize your body’s energy replenishment and repair processes. It includes stretching, nutrition, hydration, foam rolling, ice therapy, sleep, stress management, compression, etc. For the full guide to running recovery, check my post here.

Here are my top three reasons why you should forego running every single day and take time to recover.

1. Your Muscles Need Rest

Every time you run you’re creating microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, and they need time to repair themselves and rebuild. These micro-injuries are not a problem. They’re how your body adapts to training and becomes stronger and fitter in the process.

The problem is that this rebuilding response only happens when you take time off.

When you cut back on recovery time, the tiny tears continue to break down, and can easily turn into painful injuries. Letting that happen will erase all the hard work you put in.

The exact recovery time your muscles needs depends on a host of factors, including fitness level, training intensity, and personal differences. Anything less than a full day of rest each week is going to put your body in the danger zone.

2. Avoid Overtraining

I love the energy burst I get from a challenging session, but more running does not always mean more energy. I learned this the hard way.

The danger of overtraining cannot be overstated. It causes a drastic drop in performance despite (actually because of) increased intensity and volume of training. A planned once-a-week recovery day may be all you need to prevent an overtraining episode since it gives your body a chance to rejuvenate.

Err on the side of caution and make sure you’re listening to your body. If you feel so sore that you dread sitting down, you need to dial it down. Take as much rest as you feel you need. If you second guess the message your body is sending, you’ll end up hurt and discouraged.

3. Prevents Overuse Injury

Running puts your muscles, joints, ligaments, and soft tissues under an immense load, and sooner or later something is going to snap if you don’t take care of yourself. In the absence of adequate recovery between running sessions, the body begins to break down in the form of overuse injuries such as stress fractures and Achilles Tendonitis. You don’t want that.

Rest is crucial in protecting against all sorts of overuse injuries. These are runners’ worst enemies and can put you out of commission for weeks, even months.

Conclusion 

Here you have it. If you’re in the habit of skimping on proper rest then now you know that you’re heading in the wrong direction. Instead, make sure to give recovery priority and you’ll be set on your way to success.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section if you have any question or observation.

In the meantime thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong

David D.

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