Friday: rest or cross train
There’s a great way to tell the difference between a person who enjoys running and a running addict. It all revolves around the days they don’t run.
For this week, my training plan has me running a total of 50 miles. Many runners, upon seeing their training plan calls for a day of rest, would welcome it and breathe a sigh of relief to get a break from running for the day. Our lives are crammed up as it is with so many activities and never enough time to fit everything in.
But not me. I have been…sad and frustrated whenever I see this on my plan.
Can’t I just run a tiny bit? Like one mile?
What about running at a slower pace?
Since I ran in the morning the day before, what if I run in the evening of the next day?
I’ve come to learn taking a rest day should mean just what it says. No running. For the entire day. Period.
Despite what many people may think, taking a short rest from running does not result in a loss of fitness. In fact, the opposite is true. When rest follows difficult work—such as very long or intense runs—it lets your body adapt to the work and improve. A day off every seven to 14 days restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, reduces fatigue, and can prevent overuse injuries. One great thing I’ve personally noticed whenever I take a full day off from running is I always feel fresh on my next run, and tend to perform better.
Rest days are a great time to take advantage of cross training. According to Runners World, cross-training should be part of every fitness plan because it improves muscular balance, targets your muscles in new and different ways, and helps with muscle recovery.
My favorite form of cross training is weight lifting, which I do at my gym several times a week in a class called Les Mills Body Pump. Weights can help tone and strengthen our arms, which tend to get ignored by runners who tend to place most of their focus on their legs. Other types of cross training that are great for runners include swimming, cycling, indoor rowing, walking, and using the elliptical machine.
Whenever I do plan to run on a Friday, I turn another day (earlier in the week) into a rest day. In this way, I won’t exceed my total miles for the week.
So, these days, whenever I see “rest or cross train” on my plan, I no longer get sad or frustrated—well, maybe just a little!—and instead understand how much better off I’ll be in the long “run!”