Important rest days for runners

Why the time between sessions is at least as important as the training itself.

Spring is finally arrived in Norway, and although there are good clothes for running outdoors all year round, it is now that people are starting to come out of the gyms and into the woods. And for good reason. Running in nature is both exercise and nature experiences at the same time!

If you're taking your first tentative steps outdoors, in pursuit of running faster, it's important to listen to your body. Most likely, you'll need longer rest between sessions than you think.

Even though the sun warms and it's nice to stretch your legs after a long winter, it's just as important to give your body time to recover. It can actually help you run even better in the long run.


Why do you need rest days?

When you run, the muscles and joints in your body are subjected to great strain. This can lead to microscopic damage to the tissue, which requires time to repair.

Giving your body rest days can help repair these damages, increasing muscle strength and endurance over time.


How do you know when you need a day of rest?

With proper running clothing – of garments that breathe well, and the motivation to run every day is there, it can be difficult to know when to take a day off.

However, there are some obvious signs you should be aware of that could indicate that your body needs a break. 

  • Pain or stiffness in muscles and joints
  • Extreme tiredness or exhaustion
  • Sleep problems or lack of sleep
  • Decreased performance or endurance during exercise

What is active rest

Remember that rest doesn't necessarily mean throwing yourself down on the couch and lying completely still for the rest of the day. Even if you have time off from running, you can still be active on rest days.

Try focusing on less intense activities such as yoga, cycling, light jogging or how about a nice walk in the afternoon sun? You are allowed to enjoy yourself too. 


How often do you need a day of rest?

How often you need a rest day depends on factors such as your age, fitness level and experience.

If you're new to running and running on asphalt, you may want to start with two or three rest days a week to give your body time to adjust to the new load. It's completely different to run outside than on a treadmill indoors. Therefore, start slow.


Listen to the body

A good night's sleep is never wrong and makes you feel refreshed and ready for your next workout. If you wake up after a day of rest feeling tired, with aching muscles, it's a sign that you may need more rest.

Keep in mind that progression doesn't follow a steady line towards the top. Some days are simply just heavier than others. Then you should listen to your body, and don't be afraid to take an extra day of rest. 

That way, you prevent injuries. And increases endurance and, not least, training motivation in the long run. Literally. 


4 benefits of rest

Here are four benefits rest days do for your body:

  • Relieves muscle aches and pains caused by exercise.
  • Replenishes the body's glycogen levels for much-needed energy.
  • Gives the mind a break, because exercise is both a mental and physical exercise.
  • Contributes to better, longer sleep.