Check out this handy little guide to questions to ask yourself to help you know whether or not you should take a rest day from training. Siobhan Milner wrote this as a guest author for To Be Personal Training.
“My predicament was the just punishment of that most fatal of human follies, our not having known when to stop.” – Henry James, The Aspern Papers.
About 7 or 8 years ago, before I began studying exercise prescription and physiology, I was a very naïve (read: stupid) individual when it came to training.
After months of hard work, I ended up with medial-tibial stress syndrome and a couple of hairline fractures just one month before I was due to complete a multi-day team event.
Ever since I first started training, I’ve kept training logs. I was a sticker-chart kind of child, so seeing my training recorded makes the accomplishment feel a little more real for me (and now makes me very aware of when I’m training too much or not enough).
Yesterday I decided to look through my old training logs. Knowing what I know now, it immediately became obvious to me why I ended up so injured all those years ago.
I only flicked through the 5 weeks leading up to the point that my injuries became apparent, and there was a consistent theme. Every single run or workout had a comment along the lines of “Sore legs,” “Strange feeling on the inside of my ankles,” “Legs still sore from yesterday.”
If this wasn’t bad enough, it was also almost always coupled with, “I meant to have a rest day today…” or “I ended up running for twice as long as planned!”
Sometimes, when we’re all-consumed by a goal or competition, we stop listening to our bodies. So here a few questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you need to take a rest day.
1.Did I train yesterday?
If the answer is yes, this doesn’t automatically rule out training today. But ask yourself, “How did I feel in my training yesterday? Was there any pain?”
If you felt shattered or sore, today might be the day for a rest or an ‘active recovery,’ particularly if you’ve had a high training load recently.
If you sprinted or ran a distance at race pace yesterday, consider a gentle bike or swim if a complete rest feels like too little.
2. How do I feel today?
Are you feeling under the weather because of injury or illness? Do you have a fever, or a chesty cough? If so, today might be the day to take a rest. Training may only exacerbate your illness and increase the overall time you have to take off from training!
If you’re just feeling ‘bleh,’ (for lack of a scientific word!) training today might do you some good, no matter the intensity.
Think of the feel-good chemicals your body releases after exercise, and think of the little self-esteem boost you receive for having done something good for yourself, even when you’re not on your A-game.