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The Importance of Rest Days During Marathon Training

Whether you are training for your first half marathon or running your 50th full, it is crucial to take days off from running and training. It is easy to blow these days off, but I promise you that taking these days off are equally as important as your long runs. In short rest days help strengthen your body through recovery, sharpen your focus, and keep you motivated to keep training and not burn out.

Still not convinced rest days are worth breaking your run streak for? Here are the top reasons to take a day off.

Muscles Need Time to Recover To Grow Stronger
Just like with lifting, running creates microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Your body then responds by rebuilding those fibers stronger than before to prepare for your next session (Hints why we get sorer when we are first starting.) In short, without adequate rest in between intense sessions your body can’t rebuild and strengthen muscle fibers, essentially negating all the work you put in.

Increased Risk of Injury
Similarly to the previous topic running is a great way to strengthen our bones. The impact stresses bone tissue, which increases cell turnover, which forces the bone to remodel stronger than before. However, if you do this day after day after day, you are increasing your risk of developing stress fractures and other stress/impact related injuries (Tendinitis/Runners Knee).

Increased Stress Levels
We’ve all heard of or maybe even experienced a “Runner’s High.” Running can be a great way to reduce stress and lose control of thoughts running through your head. But just like the previous two points, too much of the same thing is never good. When we run or exercise in general our body releases a stress hormone called cortisol in our body. 90% off the time this is a great side effect of working out; however, without adequate recovery cortisol levels can go through the roof causing mood issues, decreased performance, irritability, and sleep issues.

In summary, too much of anything can become detrimental. Make sure that as you are getting to the peak of your training, you are varying your workouts (See the previous post about types of runs), Resistance Training, Stretching, and scheduling in rest days. To schedule time to meet with our run coach or to sign-up for our 8-week run group click here!

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