Is resting overrated for runners? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run podcast.
Now, is resting overrated for runners? Well, the short answer is yes and no. But I want you to think about something. If it’s true in training, then it must be true in over training injury recovery and whenever I say this, truthfully like most doctors if I’m speaking at a conference, they kind of cross their arms and glare at me and a lot of runners scratch their heads when I say that. But it is true and I want you to really think about this. If it is true in your training, then it should be true in your over training injury recovery. What does that mean?
Well, if you think about this, the process that you’re going through, when you have an over training injury is really the exact same process of repair that takes place when you’re training, it’s just that one kind of tissue damage is accidental and the other one is deliberate. When you go out and train, you’re deliberately doing tissue damage to actually cause damage to the tissue so they can repair themselves and make you stronger. When you get an over training injury, just did a little bit too much and now you have a little bit too much tissue damage and you have to repair that, but the process is the same.
So back to our question about resting, is it overrated or not? Well, I really, and truly believe that the majority of runners, at least the majority of the runners I see, the ones who book consultation calls, who need my help, well those runners have definitely undervalued rest or they wouldn’t have gotten an over training injury. They wouldn’t have made some mistake that led to that over training injury. And if you have a dedicated rest day on your calendar, it will definitely help you maximize your capacity to build fitness when you’re training for a marathon, an ironman or an ultra marathon.
However, when you have a rest day on your calendar, you might have one rest day a week, you have one rest day, you don’t have a rest month. And when you get injured, the problem is you go see the doctor and they say, well, here’s your boot, take four weeks off. You just need to recover so don’t do anything, just let it heal. Well, that’s a passive process and that does not work for runners. And so when you get an over training injury and you really do take the complete month of rest, your fitness is going to get decimated. You’re going to get weaker. You’re going to get stiffer. You’re going to lose all your neuromuscular connections. And then when you return to running, you’re going to be at more at risk of an over training injury, even a different type of injury.
So the thing is, you’ve got to really think about this in terms of what’s best. In short periods of rest. Yes, for sure. Aggressive rest for short periods of times. Yes, that completely makes sense. But taking an entire month off or six weeks off or 12 weeks off is crazy if you really want to continue to run. So you need to think about what you’ve got to do to maximize your capacity to maintain your running fitness during this period where you’re actually recovering from the over training injury. So yes, some rest is appropriate. Resting that one injured part is appropriate. But all the rest of you needs to continue to train. That’s what’s really important if you want to get back to running as quickly as possible.
Now, when I talk to runners and go through the process of helping them figure out what to do to get better as quickly as possible, I actually have this process I go through, it’s the 12 steps of running into recovery. And if you want to see what it is, you can check it out for free, it’s a deep dive class, a web class that I do where I actually show you how to figure this out yourself. So just go to DocOnTheRun.com/12steps, and you can sign up. And I’ll see you in the training.