Running is hard. When training regularly the human body is put through stress after stress to get stronger and faster. It’s called progressive overload. Constantly challenging our bodies in new ways to perform better on race day. To reap the benefits of that hard work, however, we need to recover. That’s where the ever needed rest day comes in. Included in any quality training plan, here are five reasons to love giving yourself a day off.
Reflect. Taking a rest day gives you an opportunity to review your block of training. You can decide if you liked something, didn’t like it, did it well or had an ugly workout. Knowing what made each session a great or not-so-great one will help you adjust your plan so you can move forward in a positive way.
Recover. Pushing yourself during workouts is a must for improved performance. Easy days are a must, too. Each workout creates micro tears in muscle fibers that need to be repaired. Along with those beat up muscles go tendons and bones. Blood flow to tendons is a lot less than to muscle and they take longer to recover. Bones likewise get damaged and need to rebuild from being landed on thousands of times. A day off can be a big boon for avoiding tendonitis, stress fractures and any other over use injury.
Balance. Every workout produces a stress hormone called cortisol and too much is a bad thing. Rest days help get cortisol levels back in balance so you can feel fresh for the next session.
Adaptation. Not only does a rest day let your muscles repair damage, it repairs them better than they were before. Allowing your body to heal is when it actually builds those more powerful muscles, stronger bones and tougher tendons.
Learning to listen. Do you feel good after your rest day? Experience a boost in performance? Great! You nailed it. On the other hand, if you still feel tired or unreasonably sore after one rest day, take another. Pay attention to what your body tells you. An extra rest day will never derail your entire training cycle. It’s better to be 10% under trained than 1% over trained.
Train smarter not harder.
Runners knee, a term that can refer to any pain centered around your kneecap, is something no runner wants. It’s a preventable injury that can end up sidelining a great season or a solid training plan for a while if not properly dealt with. Here you’ll learn what runners knee can be, how to treat it and how to prevent it.
What: Runner’s knee is a broad term to describe discomfort around the kneecap that can come from several different sources. Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, it is common in both new and experienced runners.
- Overuse: Suddenly increasing training load in a high impact sport such as running can lead to overstretched tendons and irritation of the kneecap joint.
- Foot Problems: Fallen arches, overpronation or hypermobile foot joints can all cause runner’s knee.
- Muscle imbalances and malalignment: Weaker muscles in the thigh lead to uneven loads on knees that create abnormal wear and tear on the joint as the knee collapses inward with each footfall. Bones that are out of alignment will cause similar abnormal damage as stress is unevenly distributed through the skeletal system.
- Poor running mechanics: Running form errors such as over striding/heel striking, toe running and poor posture can all cause irregular wear and tear on the patellofemoral joint.
Symptoms: Symptoms of runners knee include pain around or behind the kneecap along with swelling and popping/grinding feelings. Clues are pain when the knee is bent during walking, running, jogging and squatting that gets worse going downhill or a flight of stairs.
Treatment: There are a wide variety of options available to help treat runner’s knee.
- Rest: Take some time off from high impact activities and avoid putting weight on the hurting knee. Try cycling or swimming to maintain cardiovascular endurance.
- Compression: Use compression sleeves, pants, elastic bandages or patellar straps to give the knee extra support during the healing process. Avoid these while exercising because they mask the real issue and can lead to more damage.
- Strength and mobility work: Study a tape of yourself running and work with a qualified coach or physical therapist. Work to eliminate muscle imbalances and running form errors that created the initial irritation.
Recovery: Once you are able to get back in action after recovering from runner’s knee, fix what caused the problem. Balance muscles and improve mobility by regularly performing exercises for the hips, core, legs and feet. Wear appropriate shoes with enough support for your foot while avoiding doing all of your running on very hard surfaces like concrete and avoid making sudden dramatic increases in training load.
Group workouts are an awesome tool for improving your fitness and race times. They’re also completely different than a group run. A group run is mostly a social event and every runner might be there for a different reason. Maybe someone is out for a recovery run while another is trying to get in some short speed work. A group workout, on the other hand, has everyone with similar goals performing the same workout. The marathoners run one distance and the 5k crew a different but each group is working hard. Here are four benefits of hitting the track with your best running friends.
Accountability. Be there or be square. At least one or two people in the group are counting on you. Your coach is definitely expecting you. Excuses are limited and slacking is not encouraged when you’re with a few other people.
Learning. Group workouts are a great opportunity to learn. Learn how far you can push yourself or what that pesky soreness in your foot means. There’s someone at that workout who has been through whatever you’re experiencing and wants to help you. Pick the brains of seasoned runners with combined decades of miles to avoid common pitfalls.
Push it. Someone is certainly faster than you. Maybe you’re the quickest miler but you probably aren’t the fastest 200M person. No matter what you’re training for a tough speed session can go a long way. We automatically push a little harder when we’re with someone else so take advantage.
Friendship. Even though group workouts are slightly more competitive than a group run, you’re bound to bond. One of the biggest perks of group workouts is the chance that someone is training for the exact same event you are. That can lead to a new training buddy and even better race times. It will also lead to laughs and memories you can’t get anywhere else.
Group workouts are fun, good for you and easy to find. Be sure to include at least a few in every training cycle to gauge your progress.
Welcome to the East Coast Run Project Blog!
I’m happy you’re here and can’t wait to help you become a happier, stronger and more durable athlete. The most important thing about ECRP is that we want everyone to reach their goals while reducing the frequency of injury and having as much fun as possible. From an ultra marathon to stealing second base, East Coast Run Project is the answer to your running efficiency and power questions.
We believe there are two major parts of being a successful athlete no matter what level you’re on. The first is dedication. You must commit to improving. There will be ups and downs along the way but keeping your head up is the first thing we require. Yes, that can be hard. Which is why the second component of being an ECRP athlete is durability. Physical, mental and emotional toughness are all rolled up under the durability umbrella to create well rounded athletes who are less frequently injured and bounce back from hard days or bad races quickly.
Work hard. Recover correctly. Reach your Destination Faster.
Welcome to the team!