Question: I am facing a rest vs training moment myself. Maybe they could address how to assess if you ought to push it when feeling fatigued or rest instead and have a better next run.
‘Less is More’
With six short weeks until the big day, the final stretch is coming! As some of you have mentioned in earlier posts, you’re in the midst of incorporating longer runs and increasing mileage. With this in mind, preparation and staying healthy is key in setting yourself up for success at the starting line. Just as important as it is to get in the long runs, your body also needs time to rest. Rest allows your body to adapt to the longer miles, heal and recover to ultimately become stronger and faster throughout your training. Recovery also gives your body the opportunity to restock glycogen stores, build strength, reduce fatigue and also provide you a little mental break from all the running you’ve been doing. Sticking to your training plan can certainly help with this but how do you decide if it’s better to rest or try pushing through fatigue?
There are a few signs/markers that may suggest overtraining and indicate that you may benefit from a day off or substituting some runs for cross training sessions:
• Elevated Resting Heart Rate
An elevated resting heart is a good indicator of stress – both physical and psychological (both hard days of running and at work call for recovery!). Try to take your pulse before you get out of bed and monitor any changes or fluctuations throughout your training regimen.
• Sleep and Energy Levels
Sleep pattern and energy level changes may be other signs of overtraining. Sleep is very important particularly after exercise when the body can metabolize glucose that muscles need for recovery. Furthermore, sleep plays a big part in immune, motor and cognitive functions that influence energy levels. Feeling run down may be a sign you need a bit of break. This may even affect your mood as well – irritability and anxiety are common signs of a stress hormone, cortisol that the body releases when we feel overwhelmed.
• Not Feeling Well
As mentioned earlier, inadequate sleep/rest can affect immune responses and may put you at greater risk for illness. Whether you’re fighting a cold or simply not feeling well, your body needs to work overtime to refuel your immune system. This means fewer resources to help you recover from training.
• Ongoing aches or pains
No doubt, there will be muscle soreness and aches after workouts. However, if this persists, you may benefit from resting overworked joints and muscles. Again, your body will need more energy to allocate for repair that could lengthen recovery time.
Cross training is a great way to maintain the great aerobic conditioning that you’ve accomplished thus far without overworking some of the same muscles used during running. The elliptical, rowing machine, biking and swimming are great ways to exercise your aerobic symptom and using other muscles to promote overall fitness.
Bottom Line? If you’re feeling any of the signs of overtraining, you may benefit from rest or incorporating a few cross training sessions throughout the week. The goal is to continue the progress you’ve made while keeping yourself healthy for the starting line – sometimes, less is more!