3 Signs Your Body Needs a Rest

Today’s Workout: Impromptu Rest Day

This morning I woke up with a twinge in my leg and thought, “Uh oh, this can’t be good.” I was hoping it would be gone by the time I got home from work, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. I was still wrestling with the idea of running, but the fact that a) my knee was still bothering me, b) I was so busy at work today that I didn’t eat “lunch” until 4:00 p.m., and c) I was feeling rather dehydrated (again, because I was so busy at work that I didn’t have one glass of water all day), made me decide to take another rest day and continue my running schedule tomorrow.

I can’t help but say I’m rather annoyed, because it was this very same point in my training last year that I also started to have knee pain. Instead of resting, I just continued to run and push myself, and I ended up with Runner’s Knee. I refuse to let this happen again this time. I will not be confined to only running 13.1 for the rest of my life!

This spurred the idea of 3 Signs You Need a Rest Day. Here are a few warning signals:

1) You’re feeling dehydrated. If you haven’t had enough water before your run, then it’s not a good idea to bother running. I’d suggest drinking 16 oz of water at least 20 minutes before a run if you’re a morning runner (gives you time to go to the bathroom, too!), and drinking 8 6 oz glasses of water throughout the day and another glass 20 minutes before you’re run if you’re an evening runner. If you run mid-day, your water intake should be somewhere in-between.

Runners need way more than eight glasses of water throughout the day!

2) You haven’t properly fueled. I was also guilty of this today. My diet consisted of a large coffee from Dunkin’s this morning, a banana at some point around noontime, and a foot-long Subway sandwich at 4:00 when I finally had a chance to take a lunch break. Not very ideal. By the time I got home at 6:00, I was stuffed to the gills and not exactly looking forward to running like that. I always try to give myself a three-hour window before my run when it comes to meals; if I get hungry, I’ll eat a piece of fruit (usually a banana) a half hour beforehand. I also try to have three decent sized meals and four snacks throughout the day, overall.

3) You have any sort of pain-at all! Yes, it might be a tiny twinge in your knee today, but if you keep running on it, it might end up being a huge pain in the you know what tomorrow. I always try to avoid taking Tylenol, having my doctor administer Cortisol (I had one offer to administer it to me once and I balked, and haven’t seen him since), or anything else that might mask my pain. I hate taking extra rest days, but is rather do that than seriously injure myself and not be able to run for the long haul.

Considering I was guilty of all three of these items, I decided to forego my run today. 😦

Tomorrow I’m scheduled for a 5-mile run. I plan on starting off slow…and then we’ll see how it goes!

What major factors do you use to determine if you need a rest day?

Do you take any painkillers, muscle ointments, etc., to help you overcome any small daily twinges? Or do you try to tough it out without using anything?


8 thoughts on “3 Signs Your Body Needs a Rest

  1. Heather

    I needed to read this today. 🙂 I hope you feel better and the pain leaves. It is so frustrating to have any sort of niggling pain that interferes with your training. Since banging my knee in the door last week, it’s been giving me some grief 😦 I’ve been icing it and taking Advil. What were your symptoms when you first discovered you had runner’s knee?

    1. 262x2 Post author

      I knew I was starting to get symptoms of Runner’s Knee last year because I literally would start to feel my IT band starting to stretch out (not in a good way). It literally feels like a rubber band is being stretched out in my knee and it does hurt! But if it’s your IT band, trust me, you’ll know…

  2. emmelineruns

    Feel better!! I just base it on what the pain is, some things you can run through and others you should rest. If it’s a tendon issue, I rest because the last thing I need is a serious injury. I never take pain masking things though.

  3. Laura @ RunningJunkie

    It’s probably a very good thing you took a rest day. You don’t want to make any issue worse. If I am feeling a “twinge” of any sort I just foam roll, stretch, and save the running for tomorrow! I also take a rest day if I’m feeling very worn down, just in general. Today is my rest day, probably good because my sinuses are angry with me today:-/

  4. Marie Oliveira

    Being injured is so frustrating! I think it’s smart that you are resting it. I haven’t been injured in a while but a friend of mine seems to be injured all the time and her ex-college-runner husband has her do a lot of icing and stretching. As for rest days, I run on the same (4) days every week and rest on the same (3) days.

  5. Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff

    I usually identify the difference between normal soreness and something more as that moment when I think to myself “just run through the pain” (yeah, that’s never a good idea)… I took a couple days off this week too when my shin was bothering me. It’s hard to rest, but you have to respect the body.


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