Oh the glorious words REST DAY were on my schedule yesterday. Let me tell you about rest days. I had gotten to the point where I was doing something seven days a week for awhile there, even if it was just 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. Hal's program calls for one weekly rest day, and he says that it is an important part of your training. He writes:
Despite my listing it at the end, rest is an important component of this or any training program. Scientists will tell you that it is during the rest period (the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually regenerate and get stronger. Coaches also will tell you that you can't run hard unless you are well rested. And it's the hard running that allows you to improve. If you're constantly fatigued, you will fail to reach your potential. This is why I designate Friday as a day of rest even for Advanced 1 runners. It allows you to gather forces for hard running on Saturdays and Sundays. If you need to take more rest days--because of a cold or a late night at the office or a sick child--do so. And if you're tired from the weekend, take Monday off as well--or cut the length of your Wednesday run. The secret to success in any training program is consistency, so as long as you are consistent with your training during the full 18 weeks of the program, you can afford--and may benefit from--extra rest.
The first week of the program, I heard Rick get up for his long run on Sunday, and I so badly wanted to get up to work out too. I had to force myself to sleep in and relax. Now that I am a few weeks into the program, I still hear Rick get up for his long run on Sundays, but I no longer feel the need to knock out 30 minutes of "junk miles" on my elliptical. I can be happy with the fact that, by resting, I am still working towards my goal. I am giving my muscles the chance to grow stronger. And, frankly, I am giving myself a break from it all.
So yesterday, on a day sandwiched between a 13 and a 10 mile run, the words REST DAY seemed pretty good to me.