Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Power of an Extra Rest Day

When you run long enough, injuries aren't just a possibility. They are a given. But depending on how you approach them, you can reduce the amount of time you need to take off.

Case in point: Earlier this week, I did a 6x1 mile workout on the roads with a 3-mile warmup and 1-mile cooldown. The warmup felt great and I felt strong during each of the mile repeats. But when I started my cooldown, I knew something wasn't quite right. The back of my right knee felt super tight - like the muscle was about to cramp. As I ran that final mile, I thought about what might have caused the pain and decided it was doing too many hairpin turns during my mile repeats. I ran a half mile out and a half mile back for each repeat and turned the same way each time. So dumb! 

I thought I was in the clear because the pain went away when I stopped running. Even so, I spent extra time using the foam roller and stretching and iced the area when I got home. 

A runner's best friend

Fast forward to the next morning: I had a dull ache in the back of my knee again and found it difficult to straighten my leg. While most people would wonder how they might get to work, my first thought was how am I going to run 7 miles over lunch and do my evening classes at the Y? Fellow Type A runners know that missing a workout is just not an option! Even as I hobbled down my apartment steps, I told myself I'd run slow. I'd jog. I'd run/walk. But I'd still get those miles in PLUS the classes. 

This is why having a coach is so fantastic. I mentioned my problem to Coach Matt and he told me to take the day off and wait 48 hours to do my next run. He assured me that I've been consistent and have enough fitness banked to afford a rest day or two. 

I've read many articles about not running through injuries, but it's still hard to apply it to my own training. How do you know when it's just normal workout soreness or an actual problem? I don't ever want to lose out on the potential benefits of a workout, but hearing Coach Matt say that I needed to take a break made it simple. No running. No gym. 

Time to kick back in my favorite LF Sweats!

Because taking a rest day or two now is what will ultimately prevent a major breakdown later on. In the grand scheme of things, one or two extra days off in June won't cost me my goal time in October. But ignoring the issue now and having to take one or two weeks off later this summer could be devastating. 

So that's that. I'm a well-rested runner at this point. My knee is on the mend. And I'm ready to tackle the rest of the miles on my plan for this week. 

My questions for you:
  • How do you decide if you should take a rest day or run through injury/pain?
  • If you take a rest day, what do you do with your extra time?

I thought about baking treats but the last thing I need is to have a bum knee and gain five pounds ;)

- ST

8 comments:

  1. i'm notorious for not resting when i should so i'm glad you listened to coach matt! enjoy the couple of days off relaxing! happy healing! xoxo

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    1. It's so hard to take an extra rest day! But in the long run, it's often best :)

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  2. THIS POST IS SO ME RIGHT NOW!!! My knee is all screwy and I know I need to rest it and I've had that same internal fight with myself in my head for the past couple days (and still tried to run on it like an idiot). I actually went to my running group last night and ran pain free, but today? It's back. And yet I still thought about getting a run in...but now I'm not going to. I'm going to go to the gym and do some strength instead. You probably just saved me from making a huge mistake so thank you. :)

    I hope your knee feels so much better!

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    1. Oh no! I hope you heal up fast! Thankfully things are feeling pretty good today, probably thanks to the extra day off. I'm sure if I had pushed through I would not feel so great today :)

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  3. It's so hard to know when to take an unplanned day or two off sometimes. There's been times I think something will loosen up and feel better if I run on it and it's does turn out to be just something that needed to be worked out and then there's been times where I've been just plain stupid haha and ran on something I would never advise anyone else to run on. It's hard because it's in a runner's nature to push ourselves through pain in races that it's hard not to do the same in other circumstances. I try to remind myself that it's a matter of weeks when it comes to loosing fitness, not a matter of a few days, but it's still a tough pill to swallow sometimes. I hope your knee is feeling better soon and you're able to treat yourself with some baked goods after a nice pain-free run! :)

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    1. That's a good reminder, Hailey - so true that it takes more than a day or two to lose any fitness. Fortunately, I think the knee issue was one of those things that comes on fast but goes away just as quickly. I think - fingers crossed - that it's healed up!

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  4. Agree with this so much!! Rather take a day or two off now than multiple weeks (or months!) in the future!

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    1. Judging by how torturous taking one day off was, I can't imagine taking off a few months from running!

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