The Importance of Rest Days

Athletes and frequent racers, especially around the Salida area, are a hardcore group of people. Any area that can command a large group of people to participate in the High Lonesome 100—a 100-mile trail race–is bound to be intense. This intensity often translates well to race preparation, but it can also lead to overtraining. Going too hard and fast while training can result in poor habit development, muscle development imbalance, and injury.  
 
The best way to avoid overtraining is to incorporate rest days into your schedule. While it sounds counter intuitive to take periods of time away from your sport, they are crucial for a healthier, more balanced, and injury-free training period. Bodies need to recover, and having effective rest days will allow you to push harder and faster later in your training. Below, we have listed several benefits of taking time off from training. 
 
Muscle Recovery—Exercise, especially strength training, tears muscle fibers. While this tearing allows muscles to gain strength, they need healthy periods of rest to repair and grow. If you don’t incorporate rest, they’ll remain sore. 
 
Injury Prevention—Rest days prevent overuse, which can lead to pain, injury, and unpleasantness while exercising. Overuse will result in a feeling of weakness, which can lead to both light and severe injury. 
 
Sleep Benefits–Overtraining can affect sleep, putting your body in a constant state of restlessness. If your resting heart rate has increased, take a few days off and try to relax. This will help you get a good night of sound sleep.  
 
Performance Maintenance–In general, you will only start losing a noticeable amount of progress on a performance level after two weeks of non-activity. A day or two away from the gym won’t set you back; in fact, it’ll help you perform better in the sessions right after the rest.  
 
Rest days are only as helpful as they are effective. Athletes should meticulously plan their rest days—they are, after all, just as important as training days. Get as much sleep as you can, eat large, well-balanced meals, bulk up on protein, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. With the right balance of training and rest, you’ll be running, skiing, or cycling at your highest possible capacity.  

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