The Importance of Rest and Recovery Days

Experienced athletes know the importance of rest or recovery days. Their coaches plan their rest time to ensure they get the most benefit from it, both physically and mentally.

The rest of us, we know rest days are important, but who hasn’t had the urge to just keep pushing? We have big goals on top of work, family, lives, and we don’t usually have our lives scheduled out the way elite athletes do.

After resuming training a few weeks ago, I’ve found myself pushing harder than I have in a while. I’m focused on my workouts each day, and added in some new daily items to get stronger, and help avoid injury.  I went to bed last night completely exhausted. The kind of exhausted where you question how you got to that point. So when I got up this morning I realized in addition to doing the 3 Day Refresh, which will have an impact on my overall energy for one more day (Day 3 today, yay!) I also hadn’t had a rest day in a week.

Since I’m also working from home due to extreme cold conditions here in Chicago (for those of you who dealt with -30 to -50 degree temps last year, God Bless You. This is nuts), I know I need to do something to get myself moving some, but vowed to make it a recovery day. So what does that mean?

Stretch it out. Yoga or gentle stretching are great options for R&R days. Be sure to choose one that will not raise your heart rate too high, but use the time to focus on loosening up tight areas, focus your mind in new ways, and find a little bit of calm.

Cross-Train. Low impact and lower effort cross-training can help avoid injury, while allowing you to work on range of motion and add strength. Just be sure you’re not going overboard, or it may not be recovery!

Go for a walk. Especially for those who run or do other endurance events, walking can sometimes have a negative connotation to it. You may feel like you’re not working hard enough. While your heart rate may not get as high, it offers a great opportunity to stretch out tight calves and hips, continue to build strength in your legs, and is a great way to catch up with your non endurance sport friends and family.

Roll away. Foam rolling sessions should be part of your regular training, but recovery days add some additional opportunity to spend time with your frenemie.

Biking. Endurance biking or spinning are certainly not good for recovery days, but getting on a bike (moving or stationary) offers a great way to get some activity in without overdoing it, and without impact on your joints. This will definitely be part of my recovery day today.

Adding some of these activities to your rest and recovery days will help keep you moving toward your goals, without pushing yourself into overtraining mode.

What’s your favorite R&R activity?

Do you find it easy to take a R&R day?

What’s the weather like where you are today?

One thought on “The Importance of Rest and Recovery Days

  1. Great post! I needed the reminder about foam rolling. I don’t do it often enough on my rest days.
    My favorite cross training is biking, but with wind chills of -25 and colder today, that’s not happening! Today I am planning on pilates and stretching.

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