Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rest Days

I think rest days are important. I’ll say that again but this time put the intonation and inflection around the word 'think' and make it a question. I'm always impressed with runners who have long running streaks and no 'rest days'. Do these people not get overtrained or need a recharge? I remember reading about the Brit runner, Ron Hill, who has run every day for the last 20 plus years. Sure he has had some low mileage days maybe even some garbage miles but the streak impresses me just the same. My awe is spurned on by my own attempts at a streak. I think I've got what it takes like: the body type, the lack of injuries in my history, the fact I don't have a particularly long stride. I'm more of a fast plodder. So you would think a streak is plausible.

That being said I believe that there is more to high mileage weeks and streaks than just lacing them up and running. Family and earning a living must come first. I get up at 5 a.m. to run but some days I have to travel or drive long distances for work so I'm on the road by 5 or 5:30. If I want to keep the streak alive I have to make time in the day before I get going which means a 4 a.m. wake up call, a half hour run,3 or 4 hours of travel, working and a trip home . I've tried this for a couple of days and they are hard days, even doing a short two miler at an easy pace I say to myself, ”All this to maintain a streak.”

I hate taking rest days but the fact is they can't be avoided and probably keep me from overtraining. It's tough because I always seem to take more notice of other runners on my rest days. A certain amount of guilt and a whole lot of envy overwhelms me on rest days to the point I get cranky and irritable. Am I overtraining? Have you ever read some of the symptoms of overtraining? One of the first is irritability and crankiness, followed by elevated resting heart rate, lack of motivation, and fatigue. I would argue that if you are an obsessively compulsive person like me and you have 3 small kids with a working spouse. You are going to be fatigued and you are going to be cranky. So what about the elevated resting heart rate?

Have you ever tried to take your pulse after the alarm goes off? Or how about after the alarm and two dogs are doing the 'I have to Pee' Box Step on your tile floor with the added presence of an ice cold size 3 foot in your back pushing you out of bed. Heart Rate-It ain't gonna happen. As you can see I've got all the motivation I need to be an early morning runner whether I like it or not. I just can't string together a streak of run days. I think in my case with all overtraining symptoms aside 'forced rest days' are more mental rejuvenation than physical. The physical recharge is a bonus. So there we have it an early morning runner with forced rest days caused by work which I n turn causes crankiness but avoids over training. Still what is it about this species that makes us desire things which may be inherently bad for us? I blame Endorphins and/ or Adrenaline - the Runner's High or that Zen like state achieved on a few runs. But I'll muse about that another time.

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