It's a sensible question to ask as we launch #RunJune - here are the pros and cons of not having a rest day
Running is all about setting goals, which is why, as we approach half way in our #Run1000Miles campaign for 2018, we thought of another one: run everyday in June. The summer is here, the weather is better, fab trails are easier to access and it gives you a great chance to catch up.
Of course, that does lead to that all-important question: is it actually good for you? Should you really run everyday? Well, take on board our few notes of caution before you start imitating the great Ron Hill, who famously ran every day for 52 years 39 days and we promise you'll have a great time.
First, some basic principles:
We're all agreed that we need recovery. It's at that time - and not when we're doing hard training - that your body is adapting for the better.
But "recovery" does not necessarily mean taking a day off, although for beginners it could indeed mean only running three days a week.
On the other hand, when it comes to the more experienced runners, there is another school of thought: if you want to run, say, 40 miles per week it makes more sense to spread those miles out over seven days rather squeeze it into five or six days. The thinking is that 40 miles over six days puts your body under more stress than 40 miles over seven days.
The most important thing is getting adequate recovery and having 'x' amount of days off is not the crucial factor. So, how can that be done?
- Including alternative forms of exercise to running is one option.
- Definitely do not go out hard all of the time.
- Include much shorter runs that do not tax your body.
- Listen to your body. If you're tired one day and the programme says to do a medium-length run, just make it a recovery run. It could be well be too that your run the following day needs to be short. You will probably get more mile in total if you follow this approach rather than stick rigidly to a schedule as it will catch up with you eventually.
The chief reason #RunJune is a great challenge to follow is that habits are powerful. Just knowing that you have to get your run in on a given day will you give a huge amount of incentive when, for example, you come home late from work and want to put your feet up. Not wanting others to see a big fat zero next to the day's date on your online mileage tracker is a great motivating tool. You will know that missing a day will bring to an end all the good work you have already put in to maintaining the streak for the month up to that point.
One big note of warning is, if you're a beginning runner you should be forgetting about #RunJune. You're putting your body through new stresses and strains and it will break down if that's happening day in, day out. Every other day is perfectly acceptable. It's all about setting yourself a challenge for the month.
For many others on low mileage too, those principles of recovery may mean a rest day makes sense. Then again, this challenge isn't "run five miles every day". It's definitely not cheating if you only do five minutes at a very slow pace. Recent scientific research shows that little and often is just as important as lengthy durations when it comes to general health benefits.
Even Ron would sometimes only run for a mile in later years - and for someone of his experience that's pretty short.
Think of that super-short run as recovery; just getting in that briefest of runs will mean you keep that streak going and that will be a powerful motivating force for the good. It will encourage you and others to run the next day too.
But above all, the rule is that you have to listen to your body. Even Ron - a former European and Commonwealth marathon champion - decided to end his streak at some point. So should you if need to.
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