Running and training every day: right or wrong?

Running and feeling good, seeing improvements day after day and chasing ever more ambitious goals can lead to the desire to test yourself and try to train always, every day of the week. A bit like elite athletes do. It’s easy to think that running every day, even if only for a few kilometers, makes us stronger and faster in the long run. But are we sure that this “no days off” mentality does more harm than good?

To find out, we turned to Angela Fifer, a member of the executive council of theAssociation for Applied Sport Psychologyand to Janet Hamilton, owner of the company Running Strong of Atlanta.

“There are several reasons why people might embrace the ‘no day off’ philosophy,” says Fifer. For one thing, some people find it easier to get used to running and other types of training by making it a daily habit. Another is that athletes (of any level) are usually competitive, not only with others but especially with themselves, which can lead to adding “just one more workout” or “just one more kilometer”.

“Our competitive nature sometimes overrides logic and reason when we really want something, like a new staff, a new milestone or a new distance,” says Fifer.

Hamilton adds that many others run every day to relax, to have a moment to think, or to combat anxiety or depression.

Advantages and disadvantages of running and training every day

There are people who can handle their workout every day and others who find it difficult to get back to the gym or go out for a run after a day of rest, according to Fifer.

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“We need time to mentally recover, and even taking a day off can give the body and mind a chance to do so.

We also need to allow ourselves time to recover physically. Apparently, taking it easy from time to time helps the body get stronger, according to Hamilton.

“Physiologically, the body responds to stimuli by becoming strong if it has the opportunity to respond,” he says. “In other words, periods of overload, or ‘hard’ days, followed by periods of recovery, or ‘easy’ days, will provide the best option for most people.” This is because our body goes through a process called adaptation, explains Hamilton, in which physiological changes occur at the cellular level, such as building more mitochondria and blood vessels, and producing more blood and stronger muscle fibers. The body cannot do all of this if it does not receive the appropriate amount of time (and fuel) to do it.

However, the “appropriate” amount of time varies from person to person. “Some athletes can get away with a very short, easy-paced run as a recovery. Others prefer a real day off. And others may find they respond better with an activity that is much less stressful than running – like walking or doing a little bit. of swimming in relaxation, “says Hamilton.

“So a little bit of running on a day off is okay? Could it be. As long as you maintain very light volume and intensity, you can still get the recovery benefits.”

Hamilton agrees. “There are a lot of workaholics who have run every day for hundreds of days in a row – one of the ways they can do it successfully is to respect the fact that some days have to be super easy and super short,” says Hamilton. And anyway, if you are continually targeted by injuries, you probably shouldn’t try running every single day.

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The first thing to keep in mind is that no matter how you recover, it shouldn’t shy away from the process of stimulating those physiological changes. In other words, you’re not doing yourself any favors by doing a hard workout in the pool. Just because you’re not running, hard training remains hard training, no matter if you switch activities.

“Most runners, however, will find that they perform better in competitions if they respect the training process and the physiological demands of the body when pushing. Sleep is part of training. Rest is part of training. If you want to be. best, you have to give your body both stress (overload) and rest (recovery), “he says.

The benefits of the recovery day

There are both psychological and physiological signs that could indicate that you need a day (or more) of rest from running.

According to Fifer, the number one sign is not feeling motivated or not having fun. “If running is something you love and you start noticing it becomes a burden, try taking a day or two off and doing something different,” says Fifer. “Taking a couple of days can help recharge you.”