Friday, November 5, 2010

The Importance of Rest

I want to be very honest with y'all. I have slacked this week when it comes to training.

During the Army Ten Miler I told y'all that I hurt my knee, but it wasn’t actually my knee, it was due to IT Band Syndrome. IT Band Syndrome is an overuse injury that can occur when you increase mileage too quickly, don't stretch accurately or enough, wearing worn out shoes, running repeatedly with your leg turned slightly inward or excessive hill running.

Many runners believe they hurt their knee because the IT Band rubs against the knee and causes inflammation. Another great example of knowing that you have IT Band Syndrome would be a similar pain and inflammation in your hip, like I experienced in September. For more information on IT Band Syndrome, read this article in Runners World.

As a result, I have been icing my knee after the few runs I have completed, stretching a lot, attending more Yoga class and ordered a foam roller (should be here by Monday). My overall plan from here on out is to increase mileage slowly. Training is all about planning!

I was following my little recovery plan quite well until Wednesday of this week when I started to feel achy. I, therefore, skipped yoga instead to stretch on my own and watch the Kira Knightly version of Pride & Prejudice with a tall glass of water and some tea (minus the beach).

An OK abbreviated version of the classic Jane Austen tale. I still prefer the 8 hour version with Colin Firth from the BBC. The Kira Knightly version just feels too rushed! It could be because it is about 1/5 as long as the 8 hour one.

Anyway, my aches have gone away and now my throat hurts... awesome! Besides a hike tomorrow I plan to take this weekend easy and hopefully we will return to our regular programming on Monday (fingers crossed).

But, first let us talk about the importance of REST, which I have decided these past few days have been dedicated too.

Back in high school, the few seasons I ran track, the coach would give the seasoned runners two weeks off between every season and simply tell them to only go on easy 20 minute runs not more than 4 times a week.

While doing research for this piece, I learned that there are various reasons we all just need a little rest. But, I think the most important reason is because rest days are when actual improvement occurs. To run, you must have strong legs. During rest, your muscles are able to repair and strengthen allowing you to become a stronger runner.

Rest is also necessary as running is hard on your joints and running everyday can cause overuse injuries (something so obvious that we all forget about). For more information of rest I would suggest this article.

So, how do you incorporate rest?

Just as we all pick a day every week to complete our long runs, pick a day every week to just relax. Try to make this day the day after your long run and plan NOT to do any exercise. Some runners may only rest 1 day a week while others may rest up to 3 days a week, which is essentially my preference.

As you will see below, I do Yoga 3 times a week, Run 4 or 5 days a week and Rest 2 to 3 days. I consider Tuesday a Rest day as I only do an hour of Yoga in the morning, Thursday or Friday depending on my sleep schedule and Sunday is my complete day of Rest.

My weekly workout schedule is as follows:

Monday - Run 2 or 3 miles, evening Yoga
Tuesday - morning Yoga and Rest
Wednesday - Run 3 to 4 miles, evening Yoga
Thursday - Run 3 to 4 miles or Rest
Friday - Run 3 to 4 miles or Rest
Saturday - Long Run
Sunday - Rest
How many days do you REST a week?

I am off to celebrate my weekend with the aforementioned hike, some airborne and a book. Have a great weekend!