Dedication is the one attribute that all runners share. Furthermore, while everyone’s definition of “dedication” to training differs, it’s easy to overdo it by skipping rest days, especially in an age where social media makes it so easy to compare your results with those of others.
As long as you’re running every day, no matter how little, you’ll be getting stronger and quicker in the long run. However, is this “no vacation” mentality doing more harm than good? We spoke with Breakthrough Performance Consulting owner and coach Angela Fifer, Ph.D., C.M.P.C., Atlanta-based Running Strong owner, and C.S.C.S. Janet Hamilton to learn more.
Is it good to run every day?
According to Fifer, some people can train daily while others have difficulty returning to the gym or getting back out for a run after a day off.
Even a single day off can provide our bodies and minds the chance to rest and heal. Fifer adds that if we don’t give our bodies a chance to rest, we risk exhaustion.
We must also give our bodies time to heal. According to Hamilton’s research, resting our bodies helps them grow stronger.
It’s the body’s way of responding to a stimulus. “Physiologically, the body responds to stimulation by being stronger,” she says. When it comes to most people, “hard” days followed by “easy” days are the greatest alternative.”
Hamilton says that our bodies undergo a process known as adaptation, in which cellular changes such as the construction of more mitochondria and blood vessels, the production of more blood, and the development of stronger muscle fibers occur. She explains that if you don’t give your body the time and nourishment it needs to accomplish all of this, it won’t be able to. However, the amount of time considered “suitable” differs from person to person.
On their “recovery” day, some athletes can get away with just doing a short, easy run. She cites the “run streakers” who run every day for hundreds of days in a row; they can only do it with a few short, easy days.
“Others find that they do better with a true rest day,” says Hamilton. Similarly, some people may find that a lower-stress activity, like walking or swimming, is more beneficial than jogging.”
When it comes to healing, the most important thing to bear is that it should not interfere with promoting those physiological changes. In other words, working out hard in the water isn’t doing you any favors. Regardless of whether or not you’re running, a tough workout is still a tough workout.