Recovery is when improvements happen. Yes, you need challenging workouts to propel you to better race performances, but if you can’t recover from those hard efforts, they aren’t doing you much good.
Without rest, not only are you denying your body time to adapt to the stress it’s under and to enable the gains you have made to take hold, but also you are sure to start your next workout under-fueled, exhausted, or possibly fighting off illness or injury.
If you have a hard time making yourself take a rest day, here are some tips to make it as effective as possible.
- Slow and steady
Any running you do on a recovery day should be 65-70% of your current 5k pace, says Competitor Running. This usually amounts to jogging.
- Ouch, my feelings
A good sign that you may need a recovery day is if you wake up and dread your workout. If you think you may need a recovery day but aren’t sure, a good test is to do your warm-up and then test how you are feeling. Listen to your body!
- Cross-train instead
If you still want to do something active on rest day, low-impact cross training gives your running muscles and joints a break. Try walking, biking, swimming, or the elliptical.
- Pick up some compression gear
Compression clothing aids and promotes recovery, as it provides the body with a more sustained blood flow and delivers oxygen faster to the muscles. As a runner, naturally your legs need the most recovery love.