The day after the long run should just be for rest, right? Not necessarily.
Many training plans provide a rest day after your long run, but there are many reasons to consider changing that up. For a while now, I have been taking a rest day before my long run and completing a short run the day after.
Here are some things I’ve learned about running the day after going long:
It’s a good indicator of your training.
So many times I’ve run the day after a long run and thought to myself, I’ll need to stick to recovery pace today. Then I’ll get going at a pace that feels comfortable, and it will be far faster than what I was expecting to be capable of doing the day after running 10 or 12 miles. That’s a good indication to me that my training is going well. It means my body is responding well to additional mileage and getting faster—even during the hot summer months.
It can actually help with muscle soreness.
If you’re super sore, you should not be running. But if your just a touch sore or your body just feels tired, running through that—slowly—can actually help with your recovery by warming up your tired muscles. It’s especially key in these cases to do a lot of good stretching after your run to help with those tight and touchy spots.
Resting the day before is (usually) more valuable.
This will obviously vary from person to person, but I find that resting the day before a long run rests not only my body, but also my mind. It readies me for the distance ahead and makes me more keen to get out the door in the morning because I’ve had a day off and simply want to get back on the trail again.
It keeps you active on your second weekend day.
If you’re used to doing a long run on the first day of your weekend, having a short run to look forward to on your second day off will feel great. Plus, you’ll increase your weekend calorie burn to make up all the extra calories you may or may not be consuming.
You learn your body’s limits much faster.
By running the day after a long run, you’ll quickly know when you’ve pushed the pace too much on your prior run or when you could have gone a bit farther or harder than you would have thought.