Why rest days are important for runners

Person resting by lying on the ground

We runners are a dedicated bunch. We love to get out and run, even when the weather is bad or when we’re feeling tired. But even the most dedicated runners need to take rest days.

Here are some of the benefits of rest days for runners.

Injury prevention

When you run, you put your body under a lot of stress. This can lead to injuries if you don’t give your body enough time to recover. Rest days allow your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to repair themselves and prevent injuries.

Performance improvement

When you run, your body adapts to the stress of running by getting stronger and more efficient. However, if you don’t give your body enough time to recover, you won’t be able to adapt as effectively and your performance will suffer.

Mental health

Running can be a great way to improve your mental health. However, if you run too much, you can actually start to feel stressed and burned out. Rest days give you a chance to relax and recharge, which can help you stay mentally healthy and motivated to run.

How often should you take rest days?

The answer depends on a number of factors, including your running experience, fitness level, and training goals.

However, most runners should aim to take at least one rest day per week. If you’re new to running, you may need to take more rest days. And if you’re training for a race, you may need to take fewer rest days in the weeks leading up to the race.

If you’re not sure how often you should take rest days, it’s a good idea to talk to a running coach. I can help you create a training plan that includes the right amount of rest for your individual needs.

How to make the most of your rest days

There are a few things you can do to make the most of your rest days:

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for recovery. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night on your rest days.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet will help your body repair itself and prepare for your next run.
  • Do some light cross-training. Cross-training is a great way to stay active on your rest days without putting too much stress on your body. Some good options for cross-training include swimming, biking, yoga, or pilates.
  • Relax and de-stress. Take some time to relax and de-stress on your rest days. This could involve reading, taking a bath, listening to music, or spending time with friends and family.


Rest days are an important part of any running program. By taking rest days, you can prevent injuries, improve your performance, and maintain your mental health.

So next time you’re feeling guilty about taking a rest day, remember all the benefits that it has to offer. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

Picture of Dan Cross

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