By Wednesday this week, I had run 10 days in a row. Granted, 5km is the average distance and I certainly am not breaking any speed records. But I am getting up at about 5.30am every day to get a run in. With other things in life, I started to feel tired. Really tired.
For the past two weeks, the girls have been in full on panto season with dress rehearsals and a week of performances. I have been playing Dad’s Taxi rather a lot and doing a bit of backstage chaperoning too. Late nights come with the territory. To say I’ve been burning the candle at both ends would be pretty accurate.
The unplanned rest day
If truth be told I was feeling a bit out of sorts on Tuesday night. I was definitely feeling in a down mood that I couldn’t shake. By Wednesday night I was feeling the same, most likely because I’d taken my pills for rheumatoid arthritis the night before and they usually affect be 24 hours later. Tiredness had to be playing a part in this. I was shattered.
When my alarm went off on Thursday morning at 5:15 I turned it off and rolled over.
Usually, I would have a mental battle with myself about not getting up for a run. Two sides of my brain quarrelling like school children across my frontal cortex. But not that morning. No, both sides knew I needed more sleep.
More sleep came in the form of an extra 90 minutes of deep sleep. My brain immediately switched back off and allowed me to rest, rather than keeping me awake to mentally challenge any problem it could imagine. I needed it.
If there’s ever a marker that I am run down it is mouth ulcers. Yes, I have a few!
My trouble with streaks
I used to have a rigid running routine.
- Sunday – long run
- Monday – rest day
- Tuesday – Fartleks or intervals
- Wednesday – tempo
- Thursday – hills
- Friday – easy
- Saturday – easy
But that’s a long time ago now.
My problem is I like streaks. My bigger problem is that I hate breaking streaks.
Once I’ve run 7 straight days I find it hard to break the streak. I feel like I’m cheating myself. But honestly, not allowing my body to rest is cheating myself.
I’m cheating my body out of the chance to recover, repair and rebuild.
The importance of rest days
I know they are needed, but why?
Basically, running caused microscopic tears in your muscles and generally a breakdown of your whole physiological system due to the impact load. Having a rest day allows you body time to heal and recover from this breakdown.
Rest days help to reduce the risk of injuries caused by overuse and overtraining.
It may sound counterintuitive, but rest days actually help to make you a faster and stronger runner.
Do I get a rest?
In short, no!
I’m not a professional athlete with eh luxury of putting my feet up for a day. No, I have work and I have a busy family life. So, even on a rest day, my body is pretty active. My job is mostly sitting at a desk, so that helps.
My runs this week
We’ll start with last Sunday, shall we?
I did a steady 5.6km in the afternoon. On my return home, whilst doing my stretching, drinking a glass of water and of course looking at Strava, I saw that my total distance for the week was at 39.3km. So close to a round number, I thought.
As luck would have it we needed some vegetables for our Sunday dinner so I used a long route to the local shop to catch up that last 0.7km. Frustratingly I ended up then with a weekly total of 40.1km!
Monday was a regular run but on Tuesday, I once again did Fartleks. I wrote an article about Fartleks this week if you fancy going to check that out. In a strange way I like the ache in my legs I get during the day after a hard run session – it’a validation that you worked hard and it’s doing you good.
Wednesday and Friday were similar in terms of pace. The difference is that on Friday I took a longer route and clocked up 8km. I was in the hi-vis gilet and out on dark country roads. Luckily for me the very few cars I encountered slowed down for me thanks to my Petzl head torch and reflective gear making me visible. You really must make yourself seen when running in the dark.
On Saturday we awoke to a lovely covering of snow. I had planned to run and the snow just galvanised the plans as I love running snow! I did on my favourite 5 miles trail routes and it was just fabulous. Running on fresh, untouched powdery snow is magical. It’s also nice and soft so good for the knees. Duke also loves the snow and he probably covered another 2 and a half miles running in and out of the woods and snow covered fields.
All in all, a good week
I’m really pleased with my running this week. Last week I wrote that consistency is key and maintaining this is my aim for this year. But, I need to remember to factor in rest days to avoid burning myself out.
Thanks for reading.