Getting enough rest and recovery between runs is a very important tip when it comes to planning your training program. It is during this down-time that our bodies recover, repair and grow and in my eyes it is just as important as the running itself!
Rest and Recovery
Why is rest so important?
You would be forgiven for thinking that the improvements your body makes occur whilst you are running. But you would be mistaken! The modifications which occur in our muscles, hearts, lungs, blood vessels etc all happen when we are resting. It is during this time that our bodies’ also repair any damage done during the training session – small tears, inflammation etc.
If you don’t get enough rest and recovery, not only will your improvements not be as marked, but also you risk injury.
So how much should I be resting?
This is a little bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question as there is no set answer and it will vary from person to person based on a number of variables such as fitness level, training aims, competition etc.
For anyone other than professional athletes, I wouldn’t recommend running more than 4 days in any one week and ensure you get at least 1 complete rest day, where you do no exercise. The other days, if you want can be used for ‘active recovery’ such as strengthening and cross training.
How are Rest and Recovery different?
There is a subtle difference between rest and recovery. Rest is where you do no exercise at all. Everyone should have at least one rest day a week. Recovery can involve exercise, as long as it isn’t running! Recovery days should be at least twice a week and may include another form of exercise such as swimming, cross-training etc. This is important as it allows you to still do exercise, whilst giving your body a break from the persistent pounding and repetitive movement patterns which running involves.