Yesterday was a rest day on the schedule, and I was happy for it. I had run 12 consecutive days, with the last six comprising a 60 mile week. I was ready for some down time. I embrace the rest when it comes on the schedule and like to position the rest day at the end of my training week for two reasons. The first reason is flexibility; if I have the rest day at the end of the week, I can take it during the week if necessary and still complete all of the work for the week. The second reason I like the scheduled rest day on Sunday is that it feel like a reward for all of the hard work done during the week.
I think that a lot of runners (especially those new to the sport) have a tendency to not rest enough. It is appealing to work hard on every workout and to view rest days as missed opportunities. However, a single day of training has little impact on our performance come race day; it is the accumulation of weeks/months/ years of training that pay off. I rest on rest days and run the recovery runs easy. I monitor my pace closely in an attempt to stay in the pace ranges that Pete Pfitzinger suggests. I know that there will be hard workouts and there is no need to make any single workout harder than prescribed. I take it easy when allowed and empty the tank when necessary.
Of course, workouts sometimes become harder due to circumstance. Today’s run was 9 miles with 10X100 meter strides. I kept thinking of Running with the Buffaloes, which I read a few days ago, where they do a lot of strides (most of theirs were 300 meters) and constantly said how it was muscle stimulus. The idea is to train the legs to turn over quickly without putting too much strain on the cardiovascular system. Well, I got to the track, where I intended to run on the field or run the 100 meter straights and jog the curves. There was 3-4 inches of snow on the track and field, despite most of the roads having melted off by this time. To add to that, there was a nasty wind. So, I did the strides on a very soft surface, half with a tailwind and half with a headwind. I was working hard. Usually they feel fast; today they were just difficult. But they are in the training log.
So, the moral of the story is, rest when I can because I never know when a seemingly innocuous workout is going to be harder than expected.