Coaching Tip: Rest Days

This week’s coaching tip is on making the most of your rest days.
Rest or recovery days are important – you’ve probably heard the saying that training benefits don’t happen when you train, they happen in the downtime you take in between harder sessions. Recovering is essential to becoming a stronger runner, and provides a mental break as well.
How many rest or recovery days you take depends on many different factors and is much art as science (you knew there was a reason for getting a coach!). Some of these factors may include: your current mileage; your goals; your age; your history of injury; if you’re recovering from a race etc. But as a runner, you should take your recovery days as seriously as your running to avoid overtraining and potential injury. Here are some top tips:
1. Avoid strenuous exercise! Sounds obvious but the point of a recovery day is to make sure you don’t do anything that will contribute to muscle breakdown and therefore prevent full recovery (cross-training and strength work springs to mind here, but a lot of runners also use rest days for gardening or DIY, which can lead to poor muscle recovery). Limit yourself to gentle exercise that will facilitate your recovery such as walking, swimming, yoga, or a little stretching and foam rolling. Light, gentle movement may stop you feeling sluggish, but make sure you don’t overdo it – this is not an opportunity to top up your overall walking mileage!
2. Make the most of the time off – a lie in if you are a morning runner, or an early night for an evening runner will also boost recovery. Enjoy it and take a mental as well as physical break.
3. Feed your body well. Rest days are good opportunities to spend a little more time preparing nutritious food that will aid recovery. It’s useful time to refuel and replenish your glycogen stores too.
4. Whilst most rest days are scheduled, if you feel fatigued, don’t be afraid to take an extra one or replace a harder run with very easy effort. Some women also find they benefit from an extra rest day or two just before, or during their period. Workouts feel harder due to high hormone levels so this can help balance your training and body needs better.
Remember – feeling full of energy is not an excuse to skip a rest day! You rest so you feel energetic. Taking planned rest days on a regular basis will prevent the need for prolonged time out due to injury or burnout. Running should boost your energy, not leave you tired and fatigued all the time.
How often do you take a rest day?
Any top tips?
Let us know what you get up to and if it helps or hinders recovery!
If you want to find out more, this is a good read on the importance of rest days.

I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive free Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.


I also have a Facebook Club for runners where I post two weekly workout videos, host a live weekly Ask The Coach question and answer session plus a monthly live webinar on a host of running related topics.  This is ideal for those who use free plans but want to have access to a coach and ongoing information.  You can find more information and join here.


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Martin Hulbert

Running Coach & Personal Trainer Leicestershire

MH Health and Fitness Online Community