6 Signs Your Run Day Should Actually Be a Rest Day

If you notice a lack of improvement combined with other overtraining symptoms, such as the pain and elevated resting heart rate we mentioned above, it’s probably a good idea to skip your run. Combine any of that with poor sleep, irritability and moodiness, lack of energy, and recurrent infections and illnesses, and you may also want to ease off your training, according to the NASM.

“Sometimes runners may think taking a rest day may hinder your training when, in fact, you should be listening to your body. Taking a day off will not impede your training,” Khatib says.

4. You’re sleep deprived.

Your body needs about seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. When you don’t get enough quality snooze time, your performance and recovery can suffer.

“Proper sleep is imperative for a runner,” Khatib says. “It’s a time when your body is doing all the repairs it needs from those micro-tears in our bodies from strenuous workouts. Without sleep, your body won’t perform to its potential and won’t be able to heal itself.”

If you’re getting less sleep than you need at night, swapping around your run schedule can help make the time you need for enough shuteye. On nights where you go to bed too late, or simply sleep terribly, Dinkins suggests sleeping in during the morning and saving your run for later in the day—or nixing it altogether for the next day.

It can also be helpful to take some time to consider any habits that may be wreaking havoc with your sleep. Nighttime alcohol can be a big one. Although alcohol can help you fall asleep initially, it also makes it difficult to stay asleep. That’s because alcohol stimulates the stress hormone epinephrine, which increases heart rate, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

“The smallest amount of alcohol can adversely affect your runs, so be mindful when having a few drinks before a really tough training day,” Dinkins says.

The same could be said for caffeine, so try to limit your daily intake to 400 milligrams, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If you’re sensitive to caffeine and have trouble falling asleep at night, you may want to scale back even more.

5. You’re stressed out.

Think about everything else that happens during a given week besides training: You get busy at work, your nanny goes on vacation, or you fight with your significant other. Stress can have a huge impact on your training, whether you’ve been consistent or not.

Stress doesn’t always mean you have to cancel your workout, though—in some cases, tweaking the training could be enough to avoid overstressing your body and your mind.

“A great way to mitigate the impact of stress on your training is to adjust your workouts,” Dinkins says. “If you’ve had a stressful day at work or at home, don’t try to hammer through a speed session because you’re not going to have the mental stamina to show up, and a bad training session is going to add to your stress.”


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