Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Workout Wednesday: Rest Days

For today’s Workout Wednesday post, I thought I’d write about rest days.

I generally think this is something you have to figure out for yourself. I’ll tell you what I’ve found and what my general rules are for rest days. This is what works for me and may not work for you.

Typically, I reserve rest days for especially busy days. For example, on Tuesdays, I will often to go “donate” plasma (for monies, of course). After that I head home and either cook or wait for Patrick so we can go out. We eat, and we head to institute at 7. We’re there till 8:30. Tuesdays are just busy. So sometimes I skip Tuesdays for working out. I may do the same on Thursdays if I donate a second day. I may also skip a workout when I get invited to do other plans that won’t enable me to exercise and shower and get ready before the activity starts—Friday nights, for example.

I might take rest days on the days I know I just need a break from everything. Some evenings I just want to eat and sit on my couch and watch a movie with my boyfriend. It’s the days where the very thought of doing anything just makes me want to cry. These days don’t happen very often. In fact, they’re very rare. I’m more likely to WANT to exercise after a rough day because it makes me feel better. But occasionally, I take mental and emotional health days on my couch.

I don’t typically take rest days due to soreness. Why, you ask? You’ve probably read all kinds of information about how your body “has to have days to recover.” I think this applies if you lift heavily or run long distances. Since that is usually not the case for me, I can’t justify taking a rest day. I find that when I exercise (usually some kind of cardio), I actually decrease my soreness by mobilizing my stiff muscles. I feel better when I exercise sore than if I were to take rest days. In other words, exercise usually helps me more than resting would.

Let me clarify that I DO take rest days if my body absolutely cannot handle any more. For example, after I ran my half-marathon in 2013, I basically didn’t do anything for a couple of weeks after that. My knees were shot from the downhill portion, and my body just needed a break. So I took one. If you are in PAIN, you’re injured, or your body just cannot do any more, then take a rest day! Listen to your body.

The ideal version of me would do low-impact things like stretching, yoga, or foam rolling on my rest days. Walking is something I also try to do on my rest days. I think that’s a great way to relieve stiffness, and improve mobility. Unfortunately, I rarely do those things.

I’ve noticed one of the benefits of rest days is the amount of energy I have the next day. It is kind of interesting. I sometimes can run longer and faster after a rest day. It’s like my body is renewed and is showing me appreciation for that rest day. Granted, this isn’t always the case, but it definitely has happened for me, and it strengthened my confidence in rest days.

Overall, figure out what works for you. Listen to your body, because it will always tell you what it needs.

How often do YOU take rest days? Do they help you personally?

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