Do You Need a Day Off?
Many injuries can be prevented when runners simply listen to their bodies and take a day off if necessary. Even though it can be excruciating to take a day off when it may not seem entirely necessary, the mental anguish of being laid up from running is far worse. Thinking about taking a day off but need an extra push to be sure you’re making the right decision? Listed below are reasons a rest day is necessary for you.
Your stride is compromised. If you are feeling any pain or stiffness that is causing you to run with a different stride than normal, it is time to take a day off. Not only is this a sign that you are on the verge of injury, but running with an abnormal stride can lead to other injuries as the rest of your body overcompensates. Cross train or rest until the pain subsides.
You dread running because of the pain. If you are anticipating pain before you even begin the run, it is time to take a break. Sometimes runners get so ingrained in the idea of what they believe they “should” do that they forget running is a fun activity and the only pain they should experience is from a hard fought battle to push through mental barriers, not the type of pain that is the precursor to injury.
It takes more than 5 minutes to warm up. During periods of heavy training every runner may experience a handful of aches and pains that are not injuries, but rather are simply part of training. These normal pains typically resolve themselves after a short warm up. If your pain does not subside within 5 – 10 minutes or gets worse, it is time to call it a day.
Your heart rate is elevated. Having an elevated heart rate during times of inactivity or light activity is a telltale sign that your body is overworked and on the verge of breakdown. Get into the habit of tracking your resting heart rate by measuring it every morning when you wake up. If your heart rate is ever higher by more than 10% for a few days in a row it would be wise to take a day off.
You are grumpy. Changes in mood including irritability and irrational anger are a sign that your body is starting to feel the effects of overtraining. If you ever start a run only to begin crying, or if you start screaming at your training partner for no reason, a day or two away from exercise will help.
You are fatigued. If you are sleeping and exercising the same amount but experiencing unexplained fatigue you need to rest, as your body is screaming for recovery.
You have soreness that hasn’t gone away in 3 or more days. Soreness from hard exercise is normal; however, any soreness that lingers beyond 72 hours requires a day off in order to repair. Exercising on overly sore muscles can easily lead to muscle tears and strains, or even tendonitis.
If you have any tips for taking a day off let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.