This is the one 24-hour stretch when you can loaf around at your leisure, but do you even know how do that?
When you're training for a marathon, your schedule is not your own. Suddenly, whatever "free time" you once had is gobbled up by early morning runs (that get longer with each passing week), cross-training and strength training, and, of course, there are the monstrous weekend long runs and post-run eating fest that seem to take up the entire day. And then, once a week, you die and go to heaven because it's rest day! This is the one 24-hour stretch when nothing even vaguely running-related is on your calendar, when you can loaf around at your leisure. But rest days can also be a double-edged sword. Here are a few examples of how the marathon-training mind works when it's forced to "relax". (Think you can skip rest day? Pssh. Look for these 7 Signs You Seriously Need a Rest Day.)
"Yay! I'm gonna sleep forever."
But somehow this is the same day your body suddenly decides it likes getting up when the sun rises. Really?!
"The world is my oyster."
No training, no running, no guzzling of protein shakes. So this is what freedom feels like.
"Time to see my friends—wait, do I have any friends?"
Rest days might make you confront the fact that you've said no to so many invites that all your friends already have plans—without you.
"Actually, that's fine, I'm too tired to do anything..."
You finally have time to go see a movie or walk around a museum or go on a picnic. [LOL! LOL!] But everything that should be fun sounds more exhausting than 800m intervals, so nope, not gonna happen.
"Where are my real clothes?"
You've been living in running shorts and racerback tops for months. You no longer have an acceptable outfit to wear in public or you have completely forgotten how to wear real clothes.
"GIVE ME ALL THE FOOD."
Your metabolism doesn't know—or care—that you didn't run today. (Is your kitchen filled with The Best Foods to Fuel Your Marathon Training?)
"Why is my brain so foggy?"
Oh, right, running is actually the one thing that clears all that up and makes you much more calm and centered...without it, rest days can also double as cranky-as-hell days. (Prep your mind for the big day with these tips for Marathon Training for Your Brain.)
"Are days always this long?"
Take away running, stretching, and foam rolling, and your day feels endless.
"No, but seriously, what am I supposed to do today?!"
For all its other benefits, what training really does is whip your calendar into shape, setting a schedule and making every other work and social obligation fall into place around your training plan. Running days are busy and hyper-organized. Rest days are wide-open prairies with no signposts.
"Oh gosh, tomorrow's a killer."
You'll inevitably start fretting around the next day's workout, and thinking more about that than actually, you know, resting.
"ICE CREAM ICE CREAM ICE CREAM."
Rest day's patron saint.
"How is it midnight already?!"
And just like that, your rest day is over before it even started. This is why you should appreciate and revel in those few blissful days every week when your schedule is free, your feet are out of your battered shoes, and you can (if you so choose) wear makeup that you won't sweat off your face.
Rest days are the slowest but most important part of your training—the time when your muscles recover and your mind can reset. So lean into your rest, because make no mistake, the road is still waiting for you tomorrow.