Unfortunately, rest is often ignored in the training programs of many runners. Insufficient rest is one of the key contributing factors to the development of injury and drop in motivation due to overuse and fatigue.
Australia’s greatest female distance runner Benita Willis advises that runners should take a rest day if they’re feeling tired.
“If you feel tired at all in the preparation, don’t be afraid to have a few days off or an easy week of low mileage,” Benita said.
“Rest allows your body to absorb the training rather than getting into an overtraining hole. If anything, you should arrive on the start line slightly undertrained, so you are ready to give it your best shot.”
Pat Carroll, Australian half marathon all-comers record holder and four-time winner of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, echoes Benita’s rest day advice.
“Recovery in training is equally as important as running itself. You need down time to allow your body to recover,” Pat said.
“When you’re sore or injured, replacing a run with a rest day or two is better than limping through a training session and risking being sidelined for weeks.
“It’s often better to be slightly underdone and injury free rather than cooked and not starting at all. Listen to your body and you’ll be thankful.”
Four-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games marathon gold medalist Steve Moneghetti agrees.
“You only have one body, so it’s good to get it moving but you also need to respect it,” Steve said.
On rest days, put running at the back of your mind and do other things that interest you. Perhaps it’s lounging on the couch watching your favourite television show, treating yourself to a massage or heading to the beach for a relaxing day with your friends and family. Find something that will refresh you mentally before your next training session.