RELAX! SERIOUSLY. RELAX.
Especially in the first week of training, where you’re running fewer miles than your base mileage, you might have so much energy that you’re compelled to run straight through your rest day.
Rest days are your body's time to grow. While you chillax, your body's healing powers are hard at work repairing tiny tears in your muscles. Your speed exercises, crunches, pigeon poses, whatever, blossom into calves of steel and lobster-monster-abs. Just the same as you need to recharge by sleeping, you need to recharge during your waking hours, too.
Instead of thinking of your rest days like an imprisonment, think of them like a hard-earned vacation. If you're super type-A, think of your rest day as an assignment. Abi Grise hereby tasks you to chill.
EPSOM SALT: BATHE IN SCIENCE
Your grandma knows what's up. Epsom salt baths have been used for hundreds of years to soothe aching muscles and arthritis. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, which comes from natural springs in the boonies of England. In water, the magnesium and sulfates split and supposedly absorb into your skin. Light some candles, put on Barry Manilow, and cheers, mate.
YIN YOGA: PRACTICE LOOKING DEAD
My yoga studio, We Yogis, has three amazing classes for restoration. Yin yoga is like a traditional vinyasa flow class in slow-mo. You'll complete maybe one sun salutation (which is sort of like one lap around a track, for you new yogis) and then hold single poses for 3 - 5 minutes.
We Yogis' deep stretch class is great for learning how to relax within a pose. Have you ever found yourself clenching your jaw or tensing your arms in a pose which is supposed to stretch your legs? This class will help you isolate your stretch to your target muscle. In turn, you'll actually be able to go deeper, since you won't be expending energy in other places of your body.
Do NOT take a traditional vinyasa flow or sculpt class on your rest day. Stick to yin, slow, and restorative classes. If you're on the floor 75% of the time, you're in the right class.
UPDATE YOUR RUNNING LOG
I've said it once before; it is never a waste of time to reflect on the gift of your health or life. Your rest days are the opportune time to capture the highlights and struggles of your training.
I use the Runkeeper app to retain notes on my progress, so I can zoom out later and see larger patterns on how my diet, sleep, and stress levels affect my training. For instance, that time I left the note "Don't eat catfish before runs anymore. Ain't nobody want fish burps."
GETCHA NAILS DONE, GIRL
Forget "butterfaces," runners are "butterfeets." Running has defined my calves, thighs, butt, abs, and even my arms a smidge. But my feet? Less dainty these days, more gnarly.
Give your feet a little love. I use Burt's Bees coconut foot cream to soften heel dryness. Don't shave off your callouses, though; super slick feet slide around your shoe and cause blisters. I also paint my toenails, usually with glittery or neon colors to detract from the surrounding blisters, callouses, and other signs of abuse. If you live in Dallas, I suggest NailsNow on Greenville avenue. Ask for Mae, girl knows what's up.
Call me a hippie, but I also use painting my toes as a meditation on thankfulness. I used to be embarrassed of my slightly-webbed, weirdly squishy looking toes (which my mother lovingly referred to as "potato toes.") Now I know they've carried me farther than some people mosey in a lifetime.
Foot-five, potato toes. You. Rock.