We have some refreshing news for you. Rest plays an important role in becoming a better runner. It may not always be obvious in the hustle harder and push further culture we often find ourselves in. But we're here to remind you to rest. It can be easy to get carried away while chasing after big running goals but allowing your body to recuperate will actually help you achieve them. Rest allows your body to fully repair and get stronger after active training during a process known as overcompensation.
The Relation Between Activity and Rest
When we think about running we usually focus on the active training – the actual physical exertion. However, there are other components to a solid training program and they don’t involve putting in kilometres. You may be aware of the importance of stretching to keep your muscles loose and good running shoes for avoiding injury, but did you know that rest is also a vital part of a healthy regimen, too? In fact, there is a direct connection between the amount of rest you take and how well you perform during exercise.
During each training session your body gets ‘damaged’. Rest, and especially sleep, allows your body time to repair this damage. This means that if you don’t take enough rest after training, your body cannot fully recuperate, leading to an ongoing weakening and deterioration of your body tissues.
Overcompensation and Recovery
But there is another reason why rest is crucial for athletes. When your body has fully repaired itself from training it doesn't stop there. In order to prepare for stresses in the future, it will become a little stronger than before. This process is called overcompensation.
Overcompensation is the physiological mechanism behind the training effect – it is how you get fitter and stronger.
This means that training is really a way to stimulate the mechanism of overcompensation in order to gradually improve your performance.
Boosting Your Body’s Recovery
To truly have a successful training plan, it’s important to give your body time to recover and repair. To do this, you need to rest and provide your body with good nutrition to help the repairing process. Protein is especially important to eat while your body is building muscle strength. Lean red meat, chicken and fish are all rich sources of protein. Vegetarians should eat plenty of beans, lentils, nuts, quinoa, tempeh or tofu.
The ideal amount of rest or recovery varies from person to person, just as some people need more sleep than others. In general, however, scientists at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science advise runners to take at least one day of total rest per week.
If you follow a training plan such as with Runkeeper™, it is advisable to avoid doing any intensive sport activities on designated rest days. This ensures that by the next training session you are fully recovered and have given your body time to overcompensate.
Rest and Training Tips
In summary, the effectiveness of your running training depends on rest. To ensure you get enough rest and allow your body to benefit from overcompensation, make sure you:
- Take a day of complete rest at least once a week
- Vary your running pace over the week, avoiding two consecutive days of hard training
- Have a week of light training every two to three weeks
- Eat enough protein
While you get your rest in, shop our full collection of running gear to help in sending your performance to new levels.
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