If you had asked me a year ago what a rest day is, my answer would have been a quirky smile followed by the sentence “I have no idea, I’ve never taken one.” Don’t get me wrong, I was training hard, but somehow I never felt the need for a rest day. While there were days here and there, when I wouldn’t get a chance to work out for one reason or another, I never actually took a rest day because I felt I needed one. My amazing trainer, Daniel, would insist I should take rest days, but I was way too stubborn to listen. (Sorry coach Daniel!)
Fast forward to right now, when I’m averaging 25-30 miles/week in addition to my strength training, I finally understand the value of rest days. While it’s still rare that I have a day without any kind of activity at all, I cherish those days, the benefits they bring to my body and the way they improve my performance.
And I finally understand that, while my previous trainings were intense, they were never intense enough to challenge my fitness level, which was why I never really felt a need to give my body any rest. Which begs the question, when you’re rarely sore and never need to take a rest day, are you really challenging yourself or have you simply hit a fitness plateau that you need to overcome.
One thing I feel I need to mention here though is that making a conscious decision to take a rest day if very different from the “I’m too lazy to train” mindset. Understanding the difference between the times you don’t feel like training because it’s too cold, too warm, you’re too lazy, you don’t think you have the time and the days when your body simply needs rest and recovery in order to perform better, is essential to understanding the value of rest days. With that said, after upping my mileage last week, this past weekend was just a big rest and recovery day for me, watching the games, hanging out with friends, and eating yummy foods.