Monday, February 10, 2014

Rest Days

On Saturday, I got into a couple discussions about the prescribed Day Off/Rest Days in the Boston 365 program. I had some thoughts and recommendations, but after thinking about it a bit, I think doing a post on this topic might be helpful to clarify my thoughts on these matters. The discussions revolved around this sort of statement:

I feel sluggish or sore when running after prescribed Rest Days*.

Our Rest Days are prescribed immediately after our Wednesday night group workouts which constitute the bulk of the fastest running we'll do every week. This is in order to mitigate injury risk as faster running poses arguably more and objectively different stress on your body.

If you tend to feel sluggish on your Friday runs, consider your warm up and cool down routine on Wednesday, the day before our Rest Day. Luke Humphrey in the Hansons Marathon Method does a good job describing warm ups and cool downs without going too deep into the physiology:

"Warm-ups and cooldowns are instances when you will want to run on the slower end of the spectrum. Here the idea is to simply bridge the gap [emphasis added] between no running and fast running and vice versa."

So, what am I getting at?

I would encourage you to focus on performing a thorough cool down Wednesday night. Since we do most of our very fast running on Wednesday, there is a bigger difference between the running at this workout and a resting state (no running) than on a typical easy run. This makes transitions to and from a resting state more important. Additionally since you'll be in more or less a resting state for all of the following day (Thursday) you'll want to make sure you take your time.

It might be tempting to get back to the store as soon as possible after our tough Wednesday workouts, but as long as you don't feel like your mechanics are compromised, I would encourage you to do 10-20 minutes of easy to moderate running to help your body enter a resting state. A cool down should be done at whatever pace feels comfortable. It should be easy, but not slow enough where your body temperature drops quickly particularly in the cold conditions we've been experiencing.

A final recommendation:

In addition to focusing on a thorough cool down, I would consider moving the prescribed Rest Day to Friday. Moving Friday's easy run to Thursday will help your body continue to transition from the fast running of Wednesday to a resting state on Friday. Remember to warm up slowly and ease into your long run pace on Saturday. I find I'm a bit less antsy at the beginning of long runs as I know I have a lot of miles to ease into the run.

Still have questions?

Leave them in the comments below or tweet them to @danielkittaka.

*A clarification: a Rest Day in this context indicates not only a break from running, but also a break from intentional physical activity with a focus on good nutrition (including hydration) and sleep/rest in order to allow for adaptation to training stimulus as well as prevent injury.

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