I have a love/hate relationship with rest days. All week I look forward to the one day I give myself to not sweat it out on a run or in the gym, but when that day comes, I find myself twiddling my fingers thinking about the gym! But rest days are important. You need rest days to allow your body to recover and the muscles to repair itself.
So, what should you do on your rest day(s)? It really depends on your goals – whether it is for weight loss, building muscle, training for a race, etc. – and level of fitness. Generally, there are a few things you should do on your rest days to help your body rest, avoid overtraining and thus, injuries. For me personally, I am training for a marathon and looking to lose 4% more body fat in the next eight weeks. Here are 5 things I do on my rest days to help me recover and prepare for another long week of training.
Workout Recovery: 5 Things You Should Do On Your Rest Day
The body needs 7-9 hours of continuous sleep for optimal brain function. At least mine does. Some people need more, some less. Sunday is my rest day and after a full week of running, cross training and a long run on Saturday morning, that extra hour of sleep allows me to not only heal physically but mentally as well.
2. Stay Active
Even though it is a rest day, I still do a very low-intensity exercise. It may be the Sunday morning yoga class at Yoga Shakti or Harmony HB, a long walk on the beach with the dogs, or a bike ride on the beach cruiser, I still keep moving. Active recovery helps reduce muscle fatigue and keeps the blood flowing.
3. Meal Prep
To help me lose the last few percentages of body fat and work on some stomach issues I’d been having, I hired a holistic nutritionist to help me balance my macros and get my body in the optimal fat-burning mode. I’ve found it easiest to spend part of my rest day planning out my week, what I will be eating, and making enough food to last me a few days. I’ll grill a batch of chicken, salmon patties and black bean burgers plus make a bunch farro or brown rice, then stack it up in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go premade lunch on my way out the door.
(Note: This actually has become a bit of a stressor, so I am researching a catering company that delivers perfectly balanced Paleo-friendly meals to your doorstep a few times a week. I’ll let you know how that turns out).
During the week, I try to stretch before and after a run, but in the rush to get out the door, I don’t always stretch enough. By Sunday, my muscles are tight and need some extra TLC. Taking the time for some extra stretching and foam rolling are essential to keeping your muscles loose and limber, ready for another grueling week of training.
Every other week, I treat myself to a 60-minute full body massage on my rest day. A massage helps release toxin buildup in the body, improves your blood flow, reduces stress, and so much more. It also helps improve my quality of sleep and relaxes me for the week ahead.
What do you do on your rest days? Comment below.
For half marathon training tips, read Half Marathon Training Tips | The First Half Marathon Is Done…Now What?
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