And on the Seventh Day

Organized religion has had a lot of great ideas – loving thy neighbor, turning the other cheek, serving wine before noon on Sundays – but there’s one tenet in particular that appeals to believers and infidels alike: a weekly day of rest.

Whether you call it the Lord’s Day or the Sabbath or, heck, even a Sunday morning hangover, taking a day off once a week is not only a mandate from above; it’s also good for the mind, body and soul.

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Weekly rest is also a core tenet of marathon training. For all the tempo runs and long runs and intervals we complete in the 20 weeks leading up to the big event, many would argue the most important day of any training plan is the time each week we kick off our shoes, put up our feet and accidentally watch the entire third season of How I Met Your Mother in one sitting without pants on. Hello, my life. Goodbye, Stella.

In fact, my pseudo coach and probably best friend if we ever met in real life, 83-year-old online running expert Hal Higdon, writes on all his marathon training plans that rest is the most important component of his training programs, hands down.

“Scientists will tell you that it is during the rest period (the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually regenerate and get stronger. Coaches also will tell you that you can’t run hard unless you are well rested. And it is hard running (such as the long runs) that allows you to improve. If you’re constantly fatigued, you will fail to reach your potential,” he writes. He can run. He can write. He can remember FDR’s first term in office. What can’t this man do?

I usually listen to Mr. Higdon as if his last name were Miyagi, but this marathon cycle, I’ve started to stray. Several weeks ago, I missed one of my scheduled 4-milers, and instead of just letting it go as he’d recommend, I vowed to make it up during my so-called rest day instead.

In the infamous words of Gob Bluth, I’ve made a huge mistake.

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For ten straight days, I’ve been lacing up and running the reservoir (and the East River, and Prospect Park, and to H&H Bagels, let’s be honest), and while I had thought that making up that skipped workout would make me a better marathoner, it’s done just the opposite: it’s left me sore and tired and mentally unwilling to log another mile. Turns out rest days aren’t just for your knees — they’re also a necessary respite for your sanity. All runs and no rest makes Anne a dull Shining reference, or something.

Fortunately, all that’s about to change. As I write this, I’m Amtraking my way up the Connecticut coast for a long weekend away in Rhode Island. I’ll be laying on the beach, eating clam cakes, and not so much as touching my Aisics today in an effort to log some much needed rest. Of course, I may have signed up for a 10-mile road race in Narragansett tomorrow night, but for 36 glorious hours between now and then, I’ll be off my feet and on the mend.

And then back to the races again!

How are you resting this weekend?

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