I can’t sleep, I bounce around, and am scattered when I don’t do something to burn off the extra energy. Do I really have to sit on my ass and do nothing on my rest days? We all know that feeling of electricity beneath our skin when we taper for a race. Some of us “suffer” with the same energy even on rest days.
So what do you do? Active rest is the answer to your woes. Engage in something other than running. The idea is to use supporting muscles or opposing muscles when implementing active rest. This will get you the most bang for your buck and allow your running muscles to rest.
Cycling, swimming, and yoga are all good choices for opposing muscles while team sports such as basketball, football, and kickball will rely on those supporting muscles. This will also open your social circle. There is research that suggests basketball actually is the best activity for increasing bone density.
Having strong opposing muscles prevents injury because your big strong running muscles do not overpower them and it prevents overuse of the running muscles. Strong supporting muscles also prevents injury because you are able to recruit them when the primary muscles become tired and when you are on uneven or technical terrain.
Including other activities in your life will help prevent boredom and burnout.
When you are using active rest, be mindful of your overall fatigue. Some days you just have to sit on your ass and do nothing because that is what your body needs even when your mind says go, go, go.
So don’t be afraid to get out there and expand beyond running. It will make you a stronger runner both physically and mentally. The same applies to cycling and swimming, really any primary sport.