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David Freeze: Gotta Run

How to take a rest day

Yes, they are needed. To take a day off is necessary but for some of us, it isn’t easy. I have a very successful running client in Carson City, Nevada named Skyler Loibl. Skyler asked me, “How do I take a rest day?” I know what he meant. He is excited about his weight loss and increased energy but sometimes a runner or anybody just needs a rest day.

Skyler has lost 75 pounds in nine months and keeps working out most days, so he is accustomed to it. A day without a workout just doesn’t feel the same. Usually the best way for me to realize a rest day is needed starts with the alarm clock. I get up very early and make up for that by staying up late, meaning that eventually its going to be a little harder to wake ahead of the clock. Not always the case, but most times when the alarm wakes me, my workout won’t be the best. Sometimes, I push ahead and start my run, only to cut it short and turn back early. This morning was one of those.

Working muscles harder than in years, Skyler needs a rest day more often. But mentally, he wants to keep up the progress. So, how does he or anyone justify and actually enjoy a rest day?

For experienced runners, the addiction to exercise is likely to pull hard and cause a down mood for the day. Overriding that down mood is the goal. It can be done. Here is my opinion on how do it.

I think that reasons for a rest day vary but also complicate matters. Rest days should be rest days, not just simply moving the emphasis to a cross training workout activity, unless the activity is free and easy with no expectations. Swimming, a casual bike ride or walk would work. Don’t fall into the common pitfall of trying to make up for losing time with your primary activity by pushing hard on another.

Nutrition has to play a part too. Good nutrition is likely to help the body recover and should be practiced all day. I think runners often eat worse on rest days because they mentally feel worse. A small treat won’t hurt but a total gorge on food that never should be part of the training plan will really derail the positive effects of a day off. Many of us like a little bit of chocolate occasionally and the key term is little bit. Have that piece of chocolate in moderation.

Increased hydration is a must. It’s possible that dehydration caused the listless start to the day and continues to contribute. Push the hydration, primarily with water and make sure your pee becomes and remains clear. Any toxins from overtraining should exit the body with proper hydration.

Reward yourself in another way. Without your workout, you have a gained time that can be well spent on yourself.

On the unusual day that I really drag into my workout and cut it short, I take the time to catch up on something that fits the time slot. My favorite is to read a chapter or two of a good book, leaving behind the thoughts of missing the workout.

And last thing, find time for a nap if possible. Sleep deficit or overtraining often feel the same and can contribute to each other. Just this afternoon, a Saturday with a rainstorm, I took an hour nap and felt great afterwards.

Follow these tips and tomorrow’s workout should be much easier. And always remember that every training day should not be a hard day.
The Greenway 5K is on tap for July 13. That and other upcoming events are listed at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

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