Ah, runners. We can be undoubtedly dedicated to our sport and our training (I’m trying to say that nicely, but what I really mean is that we don’t know when to quit). Running long distances requires the mental stamina to push through physical pain, so we are used to working through pain vs. stopping to rest.
Something I coach all of my athletes to understand, though, is that it may be better to rest for 48-72 hours rather than continue to push when each step hurts worse and worse. Hear me out.
When identified and rehabbed early on, most typical running ailments will dissipate within 48-72 hours.
This only works if you’re willing to sit a few days out when something starts hurting. Not when it hurts worse; not when it’s so terrible that you have no choice but to sit a few days out. It works when you are willing to choose health over pride and take a time out.
Something that I teach my athletes is to recognize the difference between “sore” and “hurt.” When something is sore, that may not be a bad thing. The increasingly popular Hansons Method is built on the foundation of purposefully developing cumulative fatigue, and working tired muscles could produce immediate or delayed onset muscle soreness. Evidence of hard work and fatigued muscles can feel rewarding and make us feel good for pushing through a tough workout.
But there are also those times where with each step, something hurts worse. Each time you pound the pavement, that muscle/tendon/whatever feels more and more tender. This is where I instruct my athletes to take 2-3 days off from running. I practice what I preach, too – what kind of coach would I be if I didn’t?
And 95% of the time, resting with some light rehabilitation (foam rolling, stretching, ice, compression, etc.) gets the job done and my athletes are back to training. The power of 48-72 hours of rest can be prolific.
People have asked me, “Well doesn’t that get your training off track?” It is reason for a readjustment, sure – but off track? The only times that I have gottencoff track is when I have to replace a month of running with a month of physical therapy, only to start back at square one. Taking a few days of rest for your health is better than taking a month or more off because of pride.
Ideally, my athletes learn that easy runs should actually be easy, and this cuts down on the potential onset of injuries. “Pushing through pain” is a mental skill that we don’t always need to practice until the day of the race. During your training, remember: magical healing happens in 48-72 hours at the first sign of a pending injury.
Of course you are probably wondering what to do when you’re resting, right? Here are some of my favorite ways to spend rest days:
- Read, read, read!
- Reflect on your running with a journal – what has caused the potential injury?
- Take a nap
- Binge watch Netflix!
- Catch up with an old friend and grab a coffee
- If permissible, attend a yoga class
How do you like to spend your rest days?
Make 2018 your year – work with a coach! Fill out the Run Coach Chat form to get started.