Beginner Runner Tip #8
When you’re a beginner it’s easy to fall into the trap of watching the miles and ticking off every workout, or worse, trying to squeeze extra workouts in ‘because you felt good today’. It’s important to realise that rest is just as important as your workouts. Your body needs rest to repair, rebuild and recover from your runs. It’s called adaptation. Whenever you stress your body you cause a small amount of damage. Your body then uses the rest period to repair this damage and renew the area with stronger tissue to better cope next time.
If you don’t get enough rest your body won’t fully recover before your next workout, and you risk halting your improvement or worse, causing damage to muscles that are still undergoing repair. If you go for a run and you feel sore, tired or sluggish without an obvious external factor, this is a good sign that your body isn’t recovered and you could be in danger of overtraining (see tip #9). As a beginner, it’s a good idea to limit your running to three days per week with at least one rest day in between runs. Try using the seventh day for cross-training like weights training, yoga, swimming or cycling.
Most people need between six and eight hours of sleep a night. While you’re a beginner you might find your need for sleep will increase by up to an hour per night as your body adapts to the running. You should find your sleep requirements returning to normal after about six weeks as the acclimatisation process finishes. If you find yourself needing more than an extra hour, or the tiredness continues beyond the acclimatisation phase this could be a sign of overtraining, or possibly vitamin or mineral deficiencies. If you constantly feel tired but your running volume isn’t increasing, speak to your doctor about it. They may suggest precautionary blood tests to check for causative factors, or prescribe iron supplements if you’re at risk of exercise induced anaemia.
Also, ‘rest’ means more than just sleep. On your rest days, REST. Don’t be tempted to sneak extra workouts. If your body is tired from running, doing that additional pump or tabata class isn’t going to help you lace up again tomorrow! Everything in moderation and all that! On your rest days try to remain active, by doing low intensity activity like yoga or a stretching routine. Not only will this allow your body the time it needs to renew, the stretching will keep you flexible and supple and help reduce your risk of running related injuries. Sounds like a ‘win, win’ to me!
If you listen to your body and give it the rest it needs, you’ll find that you can cope with the demands of running and will see noticeable improvement week after week as your strength and fitness improves. Plus, it’s always good to have an excuse for an extra hour in bed, isn’t it?
Happy running everyone!
Get Going, Get Running!