Although I love running your body needs a rest day at minimum once a week. Training every day of every week can be counterproductive and leave room for injuries to occur. It is easy to feel guilty about not doing anything but rest days are important and should be included in any good training plan.
Exercise breaks down muscle tissue, depletes energy stores and causes fluid losses. Without adequate rest and recovery the body cannot sufficiently replenish these energy stores and repair muscle tissue which can result in overtraining and overuse injuries. Typical symptoms of overtraining include malaise, fatigue, achiness, headaches, loss of motivation, increased susceptibility to illness, loss of appetite and decreased performance. The most common overuse injury seen in runners are shin splints. Overtraining and overuse injuries can be prevented and cured with adequate rest but if you continue to have these symptoms or any pain even with rest you should seek medical treatment.
I can tell you from experience that without rest illness and injury will occur from overtraining. Usually when I start a training program I dive head first into it without any regard to how my body handles the new stress. I workout nonstop and never take a day to rest because I feel bad or guilty. This behavior has left me sidelined by injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures. Inevitably I am forced to rest because of these injuries and my training plans go up in smoke.
This time around I am taking my experience and I am incorporating rest into my plan, whether or not it is active rest like yoga or complete rest, will depend on how my body feels. Today will be a rest day because my body is tired and sore, plus I have an 8 mile training run scheduled for tomorrow that I would like to complete injury free.
How many days a week do you rest? What type of activities do you do on your active rest days?