Rest days are the multivitamins of our running longevity. As we rest, our bodies repair themselves.
“Intense training and racing can cause musculoskeletal damage through prolonged high output and those small deformities can lead to adaptation given time without loading,” says Megan Roche, a professional runner, coach, physician and clinical researcher. “Take blood samples from an athlete after a tough race and you’ll see lots of abnormalities at the cellular and systems level, particularly elevated cortisol from stress and creatine kinase from muscle damage. With the proper time to recover, though, the body can bounce back stronger from the stress.”
Science backs this up, and, for those particularly impacted by current trends, so does the market. Recovery and the different modalities one can take to find it are a burgeoning movement. Everything from cryotherapy and special protein powders to floating and infrared saunas are becoming common practices for amateur and elite athletes alike.
For those lacking the time to visit a recovery center or the funds to purchase the latest superfood, take comfort in the fact that rest—both non-running time and sleep—is the best recovery tool around.