Today is a rest day for me. I’ve got a 17-miler to do tomorrow and some easy miles on Sunday.
I get asked all the time if I run every day. I don’t and I don’t recommend it. I’ve always ran 5 days per week with 2 rest days. For this training cycle, I’m running 4 days per week with 2 days of yoga. That still leaves me with 1 day of rest. Figuring out what is right for you takes some trial and error. Whatever you decide, having a day of rest is crucial both mentally and physically.
After a hard speed workout or long run are you stronger? A better runner? The answer is no. Hard training takes a toll on your body – glycogen depletion, tissue breakdown, fatigue…just to name a few. Training provides a stimulus for your body to adapt, but recovery is when you allow your body to adapt and improve (source). Ah, makes sense, right? That is why training plans follow the hard/easy principle: 1 or more hard days should be followed by 1 or more easy days. An easy day could be an easy run, cross-training, or complete rest. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. In certain circumstances it may make sense to do 2 hard days back-to-back. Say you plan on doing a half marathon as a tune-up race during training. You may want to taper a bit before the race so your legs are fresh. It would make sense in this scenario to do 2 hard days back-to-back to allow yourself a day of rest or 2 before the race.
Why follow the hard/easy principle? To prevent glycogen depletion (talked about here in an earlier post), illness, and to minimize DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)(source). DOMS is caused by microscopic muscle damage, which leads to inflammation and then soreness. Doing a hard workout when you have a case of the DOMS will not only be miserable, but likely won’t be intense enough to improve fitness.
I expect a case of the DOMS after my 17-miler tomorrow. The “feels like” temp is supposed to be 3 degrees. Does that mean I can skip the ice bath post-run? ! 🙂