Some thoughts on rest days and finally taking my own advice. (For once.)

If you’re anything like me–and I suspect that many of you are…at least in this case–rest days can sometimes be a difficult thing. I would run every day if I could. I even tried to do that one time and scored myself a nasty case of peroneal tendonitis. That’s when I learned that run streaks are not my style.

My reality is that running more than 4 days a week is pushing it. If I don’t rest I get hurt, which I think happens to most people with the exception of a couple people I know of who could just go out for 20+ miles a day 7 days a week and their legs never fall off.  I’d do it if I could, but I can’t. And I’m a little jealous.

Running is also tied to my sanity which is kind of unfortunate because things have been weird around here for the past couple months. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that I’ve been running a lot more than usual.

And what happens when I run a lot more than usual? Something ends up hurting.

Currently it’s my high hamstring on the right side. As much as I have always told other people to rest something when it hurts,  I previously would have continued to run on my crappy hamstring until something terrible happened. I could link back to injury after injury that I’ve had that was directly related to overuse, but I won’t because I don’t want you or me to have to relive my stupidity.

This time is different though and I don’t know why I’ve suddenly decided to take my own advice, but it’s about time that I took some days off.


I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m 100% comfortable with the extra resting yet, but I have realized how important it is. For who knows how long I was taking one rest day a week and it was almost always Friday. Over the past couple weeks I’ve been taking two complete rest days per week and scaling my mileage way back. Even before I knew I was running another full I wanted to do everything I could to be healthy for fall race season and now with the NCR Trail Marathon on the horizon the extra rest is more important than ever.

And on the days where I feel like I might go crazy because I hate sitting around? I walk. Or I stretch. Anything easy and light that I can do that makes me feel as if I’m being active even if I’m really not. So far it’s working out okay and hopefully this will mean good things for my hamstring in the coming weeks!

Do you have a tough time with rest days? How many do you typically take a week? Have you ever suffered from an overuse injury? Any more tips on how not to go crazy on rest day?




26 thoughts on “Some thoughts on rest days and finally taking my own advice. (For once.)

  1. KatieRuns says:

    You should try doing swimming or yoga if you still need your exercise kick but know you gotta lay off the pavement pounding! I know what you mean about feeling a bit restless of rest days. I normally take 2 days off a week but one of those days I try to do some gentle, non-impact exercise – more to enjoy moving around after a long day at work than “dedicated cross-training”. You sound like you’re doing the right thing though so keep it up!

  2. Alanna says:

    I have a tough time dealing with rest days, but I know that my body needs them. I have a tendency of getting injured if I over do it so I try to take one to two rest days per week. I would love to run everyday if I could! Running is tied to my sanity as well. About a month ago I found out I was losing my job (thankfully I found a new one) and had some other personal things going on. There has certainly been an increase in my running and other workouts. I find myself working out twice a day if I can make the time. It’s just how I deal, at least it’s a positive outlet. I hope your hamstring heals quickly.

  3. howtoeatrd says:

    I totally hear you 100% on ALL of this, BUT I think you’re selling yourself short. On your rest days, walking IS being active! We just become so accustomed to super high intensity activity as runners that it makes us feel like anything less (i.e. stretching or walking) is “not really anything”. It’s totally something. The last time I was down for the count, I started to take my walks very seriously, and it’s a really really excellent form of activity. If you can tweak your mindset to value the walks a bit more, I bet the restlessness of rest days (funny how that happens!) will be reduced just a bit. In any case, you’re doing the right thing!!

  4. DarlinRae says:

    I’m glad you’re doing what you need to do to be healthy! Although I have to say, I have the opposite problem–I like rest days a little too much! Especially with how crazy my schedule has been, running is starting to take a bit of a back seat just so I’m not exhausted all the time.

  5. Running 'N' Reading says:

    Well, sadly, I never have trouble taking rest days, Lauren – ha! 😉 That’s not entirely true, though; I have trouble deviating from my training schedule and, when something starts bothering me, I rarely take time off and just rest it. I’d much rather go see my PT and try to fix it WHILE running. I do take two rest days per week (Thursday & Sunday) and on one of those (usually Sunday) I really do nothing (other than stuff around the house); on Thursday, I usually do some yoga or strength training. I’m really glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself and doing what you need to do for your body to heal. Please keep us posted!

  6. afastpacedlife says:

    I love rest days. I only run three days a week, so it’s not uncommon for me to have four rest days. Sometime I do cross-training on the non-running days, but I always have at least two complete full rest days, usually three.

  7. Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner says:

    Oh my goodness I hate rest days! I am having one today bc I have a race on Sunday. I am going a little bonkers. I know it’s good for us and I also can not run more than 3 days a week or I get hurt. I do other activities-biking, weights, swim but I do take 1 day off a week. Well usually 🙂

  8. Shawna says:

    i’ve had my struggles with trying to run too many days a week and overtraining, too, and then dealing with agony of not running (mentally!). the key for me is to find other workouts i love that really push me hard — boot camps have been amazing for that. and i walk for an hour or so on most of the days i don’t run!

  9. seetinarun says:

    Good for you for resting. I hope you heal soon. I also do better with more rest. I am lucky (knock wood) that I don’t get injured when I run too much, but I do get fatigued and my running gets slower. Like you, I don’t love rest days, but I try to remember that I’d rather have quality over quantity, especially if I’m training for something.
    Still, lots of rest makes me antsy. I feel you. Keep up the good work (and rest). xo

  10. breathedeeplyandsmile says:

    I love rest days. I feel like at least once a week I have a busy enough day anyways. I also really don’t want to get hurt so I’m cautious after seeing so many friends with injuries. More than one in a row can get me feeling antsy if I’m not supposed to or not allowed to run. If I’m just feeling run down I listen to my body because sleep, rest, and chilling is better in the long run than pushing it too hard!

  11. Glow Body Personal Training says:

    I’m totally with Ange @COWGIRLRUNS on this one! If its in the plan, then I’m going to do it. And rest days have got to be in the plan so you can actually be an amazing runner by recovering from those super intense workouts instead of a so-so runner who just puts a lot of stress on her body! Good for you for coming to grips with deserving some rest: )

  12. irunnegativesplits says:

    Most runners have a tough time with rest days, we’re all a little OCD. Sprinkle in some yoga, spin, swim and weights that will keep you occupied. If you keep getting injured then figure out why and mix up your routine.

  13. Kerrie says:

    Rest days, if I had my way they probably wouldn’t exist but then I’d be injured all the time. I can manage 3 runs a week before things starting going pear shaped. (Frustrating!) I usually take 2 rest days a week. One because I work an evening shift at a supermarket lifting heavy crap about anyway and during college term time it becomes a 9-9 day so fitting anything in without falling asleep is a task!

  14. sarahdudek80 says:

    Oh yes, rest days are hard! The nuts side of me wants to run every day and sometimes just to make up for my voracious appetite on rest days! But during marathon training I learned just how truly important that rest day is for me after the long run. It makes running easier and more fun when I come back. I have even started doing an occasional midweek day off. If I feel like I have the running blahs I go ahead and skip the run and take a nap (or I did until the baby arrived). It is hard for me to give myself permission to rest. I have a horrible sense of guilt. Even when I was told to be on bed rest I kept apologizing to Rock. I didn’t want him to think I was being lazy, even though he would never think that.

  15. Chaitali says:

    I’m sorry about the hamstring pain but I’m glad you’re giving it some rest 🙂 I go for 1-2 rest days per week but try to at least get my 10,000 steps on those days and maybe do some recovery yoga or extra stretching.

  16. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    I used to have a tough time with rest days but I’ve learned they are my friend. The rest is very beneficial for me, and I’ve finally accepted that rest is OK!! It’s a great feeling actually to come to that realization!

  17. Diann at Books+Body says:

    Thank you for writing this post, it came just when I needed it. I have such a similar story injury-wise, and here I am again barely able to walk b/c I didn’t something weird to my hip/piriformis. (Ironically, I’m pretty sure it’s from being too aggressive with some strength training, which I was doing to prevent injury!)
    But I really like what HOWTOEATRD and ANGE @ COWGIRL RUNS said about changing your mindset to view rest as part of the plan. Such a small shift, but like everything, 99% is in how you view it, and I am going to use this enforced rest to give some thought to changing my approach.

  18. Diann says:

    Thank you for writing this post, it came just when I needed it. I have such a similar story injury-wise, and here I am again barely able to walk b/c I did something weird to my hip/piriformis. (Ironically, I’m pretty sure it’s from being too aggressive with some strength training, which I was doing to prevent injury!)

    And I really like what HOWTOEATRD and ANGE @ COWGIRL RUNS said about changing your mindset to view rest as part of the plan. Such a small shift, but like everything, 99% is in how you view it, and I am going to use this enforced rest to give some thought to how I can change my approach.

  19. Pippa @ Mind, Body, Work, Travel says:

    I hate rest days! I’ve had achey arches for about a week and was finally forced to admit that there might be a burgeoning injury. I actually cried when I realised I couldn’t run with my club today! So I had lots of cups of tea and learnt all about prevention of plantar fasciitis and booked an appt with my sports massage guy. Accepting that there was a problem really helped, cos now I can be totally focused on slaying the plantar fasciitis. It’s my new mission!

  20. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor says:

    I am the opposite of most runners I guess – I not only embrace but love rest days. When I was training for Grandma’s Marathon I ran 5 days a week and the other two were complete rest. It worked well for me, although I know everyone is different and some people would go crazy if they couldn’t workout 6 or even 7 days a week. But for me, it’s more of a mental thing. Physically I’d be fine working out every day, but during the doldrums of marathon training my rest days were my favorite part of the week. I really liked having a day when I didn’t need to worry about running or working out and could enjoy some relaxing free time. I think it helps that instead of framing it as a “missed workout”, I looked at my rest days as incorporating much needed balance into my life and giving my body the break it deserves for all its hard work.

    Low or no impact cardio, like easy swimming, is a great “active rest” option. It might also be worth considering if you could possibly take your easy runs even slower than normal? That way you are still getting that blood pumpin but you are also easing up on your body a little bit. Good luck!!!

  21. charissarunning says:

    I’ve been so out of the loop, now I’ve got to go backtrack on all your posts 😀
    I think you are being so smart about this, Salt! You’ve recognized what your body can handle and you are taking matters into your own hands. I typically run 5 days a week with at least one rest day (sometimes the other day is cross-training, sometimes another rest day). When I do more than that, both my mind and body suffer some exhaustion. I don’t think I’m too prone to injury but that’s because I am pretty careful about listening to my body and taking rest days when I need them (ie. I don’t always plan them out ahead of time). And how not to go crazy on a rest day…hmm, I would say find some other kind of activity? Read a good book, paint, craft, cook a new recipe?? Also the light exercise like walking is great. And I know you do yoga – does that not help your body and mind on those rest days? ❤

  22. kiwiyogirunner says:

    Four days is totally my max too! I get really tight calves after than! I got plantar fasciatis last year after too much running and waitressing and now I take way more rest days- like whenever I feel like it. I’m not training and just run for joy so I rest whenever I feel like I should and do yoga or just try to recover. Waitressing is a lot of time on my feet and I have to keep myself in good condition for that, sounds weird but its the reality for me haha

  23. Anna @ Piper's Run says:

    Girl….all I can say is work on strengthening your glutes! After battleing my hamstring injury for 6 months, take it easy. Go see a Physiotherapist. Rest days are important but I think we runners forget about how to really take care of all of our muscles that help us truly run well.

  24. she's going the distance says:

    all of my clients mouth’s drop open when i tell them i take 2 complete rest days off per week. Somehow they all think to run marathons or to maintain muscle you have to train 6-7 days per week. as you know i’m a little injury prone, so the days off help me get ready for the next hard workout. plus–the recovery IS part of the training!!! Don’t forget that.

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