Should I Take the Day Off or Not?

day off

As I was slipping my shoes on to go running yesterday, I really didn’t feel like running. My legs were sore from running the day before + a tough leg workout I had finished this past weekend. I thought about all the reasons why I didn’t have to run, but in the end, I laced up my shoes, grabbed Benaiah and headed out the door before I convinced myself not to run.

I ended up with four miles and a happy body! Woohoo. 

I am a big proponent of listening to your body, so sometimes this is where it gets confusing. Should I run if my body really doesn’t feel like it? Is it just my lazy side talking or would my body really benefit from taking a day off? And although I am not an expert at this (yet), I’ve found (through trial and error) what works best for me to help determine which ‘Bethany’ is talking (i.e. the lazy side or the ‘please don’t injury me’ side.)

To determine which Bethany is speaking, I normally ask myself these questions:

  1. Is my body hurting? Am I just sore from a hard workout or do I feel like I am on the verge of injury? This can be a tricky one, but I know my body well and normally, I can tell the difference between sore/achy muscles vs. ‘I may get injured if I go out and do this workout’ feeling. If I feel like I may get injured because I have pushed myself too hard and too soon, I will take a rest day to avoid further injury. One day of rest or even two is way better than taking weeks or even months off! BUT, if my muscles are just uncomfortable because of hard workouts, I like to remind myself that discomfort pushes us toward great things! It is okay to be uncomfortable!
  2. Am I close to a bad ‘burn out’ or am I just being lazy? Burn out is real, my friends, and it is not something you want to deal with! I know, from experience that burn out can happen, especially after pounding out miles and miles for a race and then all the sudden the race is over and you are just burnt out from all the training. Looking back, I know after my half marathon, I was went through some burn out time right after the half. Taking time off of running felt good and I really wasn’t super interested in running countless miles for quite a while after my half. If I would have trained smarter, I think I would have avoided this burn out and not needed so much time off running my happy mileage. If you feel like you just don’t want to run or are dreading your typical happy run, don’t feel bad taking a day off. However, only you know yourself, but I know when I am on the fence of burn out and when I just don’t want to run because I want to be lazy and not move. If I am just, simply, feeling lazy, I remind myself of my goals, my reason why, and just do it. I also remind myself of my favorite post-run endorphins and that usually gets me going!
  3. If I am hurting during a run, can I run through it or does it consume my thoughts? This is something I’ve learned through other bloggers (Janae, I am looking at you!) and my sports therapist (back in the day when I went through shin splints!) If you can run and just run ‘up to the pain,’ it is okay, but don’t run through the pain. Basically, if I am running and something is uncomfortable, but my strides don’t change, my form doesn’t shift to compensate for the discomfort, and I am not constantly thinking about the discomfort then it is okay to run on, BUT if I start limping, if my stride changes, my form falls apart, and I am constantly thinking about the hot spot, then I should stop immediately, foam roll, stretch, ice, and elevate. Again, a day or two off is better than a week or more off of running!

I hope these tips help next time you have a day like I had yesterday! Ultimately, remember to listen to your body, but don’t talk yourself out of chasing your goals! BALANCE my friends, it is so key to every area of life!

Questions of the Day

  1. How many rest days do you take per week?
  2. How do YOU know if you are ready for a day off?
  3. What are you doing on this Wednesday day?