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Gotta Run: Socks, Cavalier 5K, and when it’s OK to take a rest day

One of my favorite tips for all runners, new or experienced, is to make sure to wear only dri-fit socks. Dri-fit socks are the kind that wick moisture away from the skin. This can be especially important on longer runs when wet socks can hasten the development of blisters. The buildup in friction due to wet socks and heat can cause a blister that not only can be painful on that run but for quite a while afterwards. Look for your favorite thickness of socks, thin or thick; but always get them in dri-fit to alleviate issues later.

Like me, you might even find an additional benefit. I recently bought a package of my favorite Nike socks and was surprised to find that they have L’s and R’s on them. I automatically felt as if my life was more organized when I wore them correctly. A day mistakenly wearing two L’s was quite challenging, though. I didn’t know which way to turn.

The Third Annual Cavalier 5K Run/ Walk and Fun Run is Saturday at North Rowan High School. The 5K starts at 10 a.m., with the ½-mile fun run to follow. The race benefits Robert Gilmore, Carl Medlin and Relay for Life. Gilmore and Medlin are both battling cancer currently. Each year, someone connected with North Rowan High is honored with the proceeds of the event. All participants, both runners and walkers, will get long-sleeve, dri-fit shirts and plenty of food. There will be door prizes and awards presented following the races, plus a silent auction. New this year is a mobile mammogram, dental screening and CPR training. A printable brochure and link to online registration are available at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org  . Call 704-202-9587 for group rates or more information.

One of the most common questions that I am asked is about rest days. Not those days that happen because a runner can’t find the motivation to get out the door, but those days when a rest day will truly benefit the overall fitness and training of that runner.

Back in my super-competitive days, I couldn’t stand the thought of a day off. In fact, during my most competitive years of running, I never took a single day off. About four and a half years of running every day, no matter what. Now, a few years later, I still feel that same way but don’t worry quite as much when a day off from running is needed. My schedule starts very early on most mornings, and often I have a very early client. With most of them, I want to get my own run done first. Usually that means getting up before 5 a.m., and sometimes as early as 4 a.m. to get my minimum of 5 miles done. But that early morning effort doesn’t mean a thing to other people. Nobody is going to cheer or blow horns if I get my 5-mile minimum run done. It’s something that I need for me.

Realistically, once in a while I find that a day off from running is beneficial. Rest days have certain powers that are more easily accepted in the rear-view mirror. Just this past week, after completing at least one run a day for more than three weeks, I headed out the door. I was tired and unexcited about the run, so after a quarter of a mile I walked home and fell asleep in my favorite chair for the rest of that hour. The result was a much stronger 6-mile run the next day.

Here are a few signs that you might need a rest day.

• If your resting heart rate is running higher than normal, you are probably overtraining or dealing with some other type of unusual stress. Get in the habit of checking your resting heart rate when awakening in the morning. Check it to when you are really relaxed at other times, too.

• If you feel generally fatigued, are struggling to have energy all day, or feeling under the weather, then a rest day is probably the answer.

• If you are having an unusual disruption of sleep not attributable to other issues, taking your training down a notch will probably help. This happened to me last week.

• Moodiness is often a symptom of overtraining. Such things as overreacting to little issues or snapping at others in an unusual manner are common signs. On the other hand, sometimes these things occur if a regular runner didn’t get to exercise on a given day. It’s addicting to get used to the positive endorphins and hard to miss them. Just going for an easy run might be the answer, especially if you leave the training watch at home.

• Lingering muscle soreness, nothing too bad, but some minor discomfort can often disappear with just a day off.

If you can check off at least three of these items, you have earned a day off from running. But that doesn’t mean doing nothing or allowing bad habits. Especially focus on sleeping and eating well and spend a little extra time stretching.

Regularly spaced hard workouts force the body to adapt and get stronger. If you don’t rest enough, your body can’t adapt. Soon you get caught in a downward spiral of tough workouts even on scheduled easy days. Those workouts become less fun and productive.

Fall is a great time to hit the roads. Hope to see you out there.

David Freeze is a nationally certified running coach and president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net. Learn more at www.Ulearn2run.com


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