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As tough of a mudder as you may be, everyone needs to rest. In fact, rest is absolutely necessary for the journey to becoming tougher, stronger and faster. If you neglect your body’s needs and push too hard, you’ll sink into overtraining, which can be harder to walk out of than a mud pit at mile 7.

Every time you train properly you are creating micro-tears in your muscles, which grow back stronger when they repair. This means that without proper rest, there isn’t enough time for the muscles to grow back stronger. You don’t have to be doing 100 mile runs or spending hours and hours in the gym to overtrain – you can do it by simply neglecting to rest.

It’s easy to get excited in your preparations for Tough Mudder and overdo it, whether you’re preparing for your first Tough Mudder 5k or gunning for your 50+ headband.

You need to remember that rest is just as important than reps.

Here are 8 things that indicate that you need a rest day:

1. Your Resting Heartrate is Elevated

Find out what your pulse normally is by measuring it in the morning when you’re at ease, at about ten minutes after waking. An elevated heartrate is a sign of stress, related to the demand of training. If your heartrate is higher than usual, it could be because of the extra stress on your body to heal the micro-torn muscles.

An elevated heartbeat usually sits above 10 beats per minute. If your BPM is 5 beats or more per minute higher than normal more than one morning in a row, this is a sign of overtraining.

2. You’re Tired

If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, it could be due to your training. While regular exercise can help sleeping patterns, overexercising can disrupt them. This is because your central nervous system is overstimulated from trying to heal your muscles.

Two days of rest in a row should get you back to normal, but if you’re still experiencing sleep disturbances in the second night, you may need more rest.

3. You’re Moody

No matter what exercise you’re doing, you should notice your mood improving as you get active. But overtraining has the opposite effect – you’ll start to feel mentally fatigued, as if you have a hangover or headcold. If the overtraining continues, it could even lead to depression due to prolonged stress on the CNS and hormone levels. However, overtraining is a gradual thing. You should notice the changes, for example, a bad night of sleep or moodiness, and adjust your regime to add in another rest day.

4. You’re sick

Regular exercise can help to boost your immune system, but overexercising can compromised your heath and lead to illness. If your immunity is lowered, you’ve a greater chance of getting a cold, which will disrupt your schedule completely.

5. You’re Always Sore

While some muscle soreness is normal at the start of a new routine, pay attention to prolonged muscle pain. We know that mudders are tough and tend to ignore the pain, thinking it will make them better, faster, stronger or tougher, but you shouldn’t be feeling constantly sore.

6. You’ve Had a Few Bad Workouts in a Row

If you’re feeling slow or weak during your regular workout, it’s a sign of overtraining. If you’re not hitting your usual pace, weight or target, it could mean that you need some rest.

7. You’re Not Seeing Improvements

If you’ve been training consistently but your body has stopped changing, you may have hit a plateau from overtraining, meaning you haven’t been giving your body enough time to recover and therefore become stronger.

8. You Feel That You Need a Rest Day

It is suggested to take at least 1-2 days a week to recover, but the best way to tell if you need a rest day is to listen to your body. If you feel run down or if you’re dreading your workout, take a rest day.

If you’re still unsure about whether you need a rest day or not, ask yourself these 3 questions:

Did you sleep for 7 hours without waking up in the night? Do you want to train today? Are you in a good mood? If the answer is YES for 2 out of 3 questions, you’re ready to sweat.

If you’re struggling with the idea of a rest day, don’t think of it as a day for pizza and Netflix – instead just opt for something lighter, like yoga, a light jog or a short swim.

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