Rest and recovery for runners
Taking rest breaks is probably the most under-estimated element of training in an athlete's programme, as resting is often seen as a luxury that cannot be afforded.
The perils of over-exercise
If rest is not taken the body will force it upon you through injury, sickness or mental staleness
It is during rest that the adaptations you are looking for from your training sessions take place - not during the actual sessions themselves. If a rest day is not taken the body will force rest upon you through injury, sickness or mental staleness.
At this stage recovery takes much longer to get back to a level where you are once again ready to train properly and move on.
How to rest
A rest day is one of complete rest from training that is built-in as part of your overall programme. The frequency will vary from individual to individual. Advance planning is the key, so you will be mentally prepared to take a break.
sessions rest or 'recovery' periods will follow intense 'effort' (e.g. sprinting) during sessions of repetitions or intervals. They are of a certain length to acheive the physiological objective of the session.
If the rest periods are not correct they diminish the returns possible from the session and insufficient rest can hinder the speed and intensity required in a session.
Active recovery consists of low intensity sessions that are completed purely for the purpose of assisting recovery. It is important that the intensity in these sessions doesn't stray too high as to actually add to the training load that you are trying to recover from.
A common problem is that individuals find the level too slow, and mentally feel it is not doing them any good. It is important to remember the ease of the session is the very reason you are doing it.
Stretching and massage
This can play a major role in recovery. The traditional form of stretching exercises can be used, or possibly other forms such as yoga or pilates. Massage either from a therapist or self-massage is great for assisting recovery, too. The flushing out of tired muscles speeds up the restoration process.