It's Rest Day!

by Morgan Belisle

Picture it: You know exactly what this looks like. I’m sitting here in my sweatpants, feet up, fuzzy socks on, fireplace cranking, and typing with my laptop as the sweet sounds of Sunday morning cartoons play in the background and the baby monitor happily hums. Josh is out for a run. Toddler is occupied. Baby is sleeping. And me? I’m writing this blog without a care in the world…

Because it’s rest day.

I love me a good rest day. When I woke up this morning, I thought to myself, Oooohhhh, no run today! And when I got downstairs to double check my running plan on the fridge, it was confirmed in black and white:

Rest Day. Yayyyyy! I earned it. I worked hard this week, got my workouts and long run in, and today I sit back and enjoy. Great work, Morgan. An extra cup of coffee for you!

Scout Belisle. Rockstar Rester.

Scout Belisle. Rockstar Rester.

I took this photo of our dog, Scout, yesterday as she enjoyed a midday nap. Girlfriend knows how to embrace the rest (and clearly isn’t afraid to rearrange the couch pillows). I also know how to rock a rest day, as I am a Rockstar Rester. I still like to get my steps in (Garmin tracking junkie over here!), but other than that, I’m good to go with the resting. I’m pretty sure it’s a gene that I inherited from my mom, because not everyone can rest like the best.

Take my husband for example. We’ll call him a Reluctant Rester. Sometimes life with a full-time job, small business, rental properties, and kiddos gets in the way of the workout plan. If he misses a run, he is not happy. I *do* get it, I don’t like missing a scheduled “on” day either, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love an “off” day. Josh would rather skip those “off” days and just keep at it. He doesn’t like losing momentum and would prefer to get a run in daily…but he does rest.

Then there’s a whole other group of you out there that I like to call the Rest Refrainers. You know who you are. You’re the athlete who doesn’t take a break, (Yes, Jen, I’m talking about you). Refrainers, I envy your drive, determination, and energy levels. I aspire to wake up one rest day and say, “Damn, I wish I could run today,” (I do love to run, but earned rest is so sweet!). But some of you take it next level and actually enjoy doing multiple workouts a day and cannot stand to take a rest day. Now that, my comfy sweatpants and I cannot understand.

So why is rest important?

Here’s where I turn to the experts (novice runner here). A quick google search gave me some basic points:

·        You need to allow your body to recover

·        You need to allow your body to adapt to the training load

·        You need to avoid risk of injuries

Since you can’t trust everything you read online (except this blog, of course), I asked my friend Dan Moore, Head Cross-Country Coach at SUNY Geneseo to get his take on the whole thing. Coach Moore was kind enough to share his thoughts on the importance of rest days:

Rest days are critical for any runner. It is a common myth that runners get stronger from workouts; it is the exact opposite. Runners break down muscle in workouts and only through recovery do muscles rebuild and get stronger. Rest days are key for the restoration and rebuilding of muscle to help runners improve.
— Dan Moore, Head Cross-Country Coach, SUNY Geneseo

But *maybe* sitting in front of the fireplace all day isn’t the best way to spend my entire rest day (not that my kids would let that happen anyway…!) Maybe I need some “Rest Day Remediation”.

How should I spend my rest days?

Josh got back from his run and has some good tips:

Stretching: Develop a good stretching routine for an off day. If you’re anything like Josh and most of his running friends, you don’t stretch enough. The focus of your off day should become going through this routine.

Functional Strength & Conditioning Exercises: Don’t just go slamming plates around at the gym. Instead, focus on building up your core muscles and functional flexibility.  

Enjoy your rest (you did earn it after all!), but maximize the benefits of a rest day by doing something other than sitting on the couch all day.

That’s all for now, my Garmin just buzzed “MOVE!” so I better get some steps in…!