Marathon Training Week Seven: The Importance of Rest Days

Last Tuesday my exercise for the first time involved running seven miles instead of six, since this was such a small difference (running a half mile past the usual halfway point) I didn’t really worry too much about it.  The real challenge was running that seven-mile route twice on Saturday and meet the fourteen-mile requirement that would blow away my personal best of twelve miles.

The amazing thing is the long run on Saturday was only thirteen-seconds slower (I ran a 10:04 second mile) than one half its length and took seventy-two less minutes too complete.  Even more shocking is the current pace at the end of my long run on Saturday was a 9:30 mile (in bottom right off the screen), which is twenty-one seconds FASTER than the current pace I finished with on Tuesday.

Now one reason my pace at the end was more than thirty-seconds better is it finishes downhill which allows my body to rest and gain speed easily, but that still doesn’t explain how there should be such a huge difference between Tuesday and Saturdays run since they both ended the same way.  So what helped me find a second wind after running for more than thirteen miles?  It rained on Friday.

The training schedule had me running another seven miles on Friday morning in preparation for my fourteen miles the next day.  I was prepared to do so but it was one of those wintry days that combined cold, wind, and rain that would discourage even the most dedicated runner.  If it had just been a slight rain running wouldn’t have been a problem, but heavy rainfall combined with strong winds caused me to give up training for the day.

During my run Saturday (thankfully the weather was clear) I started out at a very good pace and was shocked to be doing a 9:40 mile at the seven mile mark, which was eleven-seconds, faster than what I had run on Tuesday.  While that pace eventually went past the 10:00 pace one extra day of rest had given my body enough energy to sprint towards the finish line instead of praying it would come faster.

This weekend reminded me how it important it is to rest physically during my training, and taking a day off if your body doesn’t feel 100% will definitely help in the long run.  And in a spiritual or emotional sense we all need to have Sabbath (rest) experiences in our lives that allow us just to slow down and relax.  Sometimes those Sabbath experiences feel as if they are an absolute waste; I was kind of annoyed about not being able to run seven miles on Friday.  But in the future we see how they are blessings from God that help us run the race of life stronger.

There is of course a fine line between taking a rest and being lazy.  There are few days when I wake up wanting to run seven miles (okay I have never wanted to run seven miles) so motivation comes through my mind and the goal of running a Marathon instead of the body, however there will be days my body won’t feel up to training and taking another rest day will be greatly beneficial.  The important thing to understand is there is no shame in taking a Sabbath rest, in fact its something we should definitely make part of our lives.

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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