You know you’ve crossed a line somewhere when rest days require more discipline than training days. Even more challenging than your planned rest days are your unplanned ones. How do you tell the difference between a reason and an excuse? And how do you know when you are better off resting, or pushing through.
With that in mind, this is usually my process for when to take that extra rest day and when to push through:
I have a cold, but it hasn’t hit my chest
Usually I’ll take a full rest day on the first day to help my recovery and after that if I’m feeling better I’ll return to training but I will keep it at an easy effort level and avoid anything that is high intensity.
Not a reason to skip a session. Chances are I’ll feel better for the movement.
As soon as it hits the chest, I rest.
If I have a cough or a chest infection, I accept defeat and rest until it’s over.
I’m not sick, but I just feel cooked
This can be a hard feeling to describe. But sometimes I feel like I need an extra (or an early rest day) after a few hard sessions. The feeling will generally be accompanied by feeling like I just can’t eat enough to fill the hunger hole and I probably also feel like my heart rate is easily elevated. That’s a sure sign that I’m in need of rest.
This one depends. If I’m tired from lack of sleep I would probably still do my session and plan on a sleep in the next day, but if I’m over-fatigued from training I would probably take a rest day if I feel like I needed it.
I have a niggle.
It depends on the niggle of course. But if I have something that is niggly and doesn’t really improve over the last run once I’ve warmed up, it’s a good time to take an extra day of rest and do body maintenance work like rolling and stretching to make sure I’m looking after it, rather than making it worse.
What it all comes down to is: what am I going to benefit more from: rest or training? The benefit from training might not just be fitness it could be to do with sticking to a habit. But you never want to stick to a habit at the expense of proper recovery. So the question you should be asking yourself is – am I recovered enough to get the benefit out of my training? If you are, fantastic! It’s time to get to work! If you aren’t, take the extra rest day and reap the benefits later on.