Stressing Over Taking A Rest Day

‘Tis the season to be tired. The year-end demands at work are colliding with the demands of the holiday season, and I am being squeezed in the middle, burning the candle at both ends. The easiest way for me to get more sleep is to skip my morning workout, but how do I know when taking a rest day really is the right thing to do?

Sleepy Head (alarm clock)

I know that regular rest days are an essential part of a fitness program, but my morning workout is one of my favorite parts of my day. I’m hooked on those endorphins, rely on those sweat sessions to diffuse stress, and–especially this time of year–count on the calorie burn and metabolism boost to balance my indulgent eating. So, when life interferes with my regular schedule, I find myself stressing over taking an extra rest day.

After a three-city, cross-country business trip in November, I was hoping for a quiet December, but even before I had unpacked I had these trips on my agenda.

December Trips

 (If you travel a lot, you should check out this app.
It organizes all of your plane/car/hotel reservations
with handy reminders and other great features.)

This schedule doesn’t even include my day trip to New Jersey on the train last Wednesday. My train got back into D.C. at 6:30 pm, which left me just enough time to drive across town and be only 10 minutes late for a dinner meeting. Luckily, the parking garage I used closed at 10:00, because that gave me an excuse to duck out “early” and get home before bed time.

I was so exhausted, though. When I got home I checked my agenda for the morning to make sure I didn’t have to be in the office, and decided to give myself permission to hit the snooze button. I planned to sleep in, go for a run, and then head into the office by mid-morning. I did sleep until 6:30 (I usually get up at 5:00), but by the time I’d taken Tiger Lilly out for a long walk, the items on my work to-do list were whirling in my head, building up a storm of stress. Instead of going out for a run, I decided that I needed to get into work. I wasn’t happy about missing my workout, but it was the right decision at the time.

As it turns out, my day ended with a meeting out of the office, and I was able to get home early and hop on the treadmill before dinner. I just as easily could have taken a nap, but I didn’t think I should pass up the opportunity for a workout twice in the same day.

December Sunset

I was treated to this gorgeous sunset when I got home!

Friday was another long day at work, made longer by a flare-up of blepharitis (inflamed eyelids). I was too miserable to go to our office holiday party, and even more miserable when I decided that I would not be able to join the MRTT group run Saturday morning–I figured the exposure to wind and sweat would not speed my recovery.

Saturday morning brought another “rest day” dilemma. I already had decided not to run, and when my eyelid still was swollen when I woke up, I decided to skip working out altogether. After taking Tiger Lilly for her walk, I treated my eyes with a warm compress, and started my holiday baking. I don’t think spending 16 hours on your feet in the kitchen really counts as taking a rest day, but I didn’t get my heart rate up or break a sweat. 

After being up past midnight, I was still physically tired when I woke up Sunday, but I wanted to go to church and deliver a few tins of cookies to my Mom, so I dragged myself out of bed. While enjoying the crisp air as I walked Tiger Lilly, I decided that I would go for a run after church. 

December Run

Even a run on a cold, gray day has its rewards!

With that run, I worked out six days last week, which is my usual goal. But, as I head into another crazy week–that trip to L.A., a drive to PA to get my son from college, another important meeting at work–I need to remember that it’s OK to take an extra rest day if I need one. I am realizing that there’s a difference between being tired–which I can push through with an extra trip to Starbucks–and being exhausted–which demands rest.


How do you cope when you are tired?

Do you stress over taking extra rest days? 

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15 Responses to Stressing Over Taking A Rest Day

  1. Carla says:

    ahh the better query would be how do I cope when not tired 🙂

    Carla recently posted…The #2 way living in Oakland changed my life.My Profile

  2. Wow you did travel a lot this month. I totally stress over taking rest days and I am already stressed about missing workout days when we travel. Yes I am that girl 🙂
    Deborah Brooks @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Wild n’ Nutty “Family” Holiday Salad-Meatless MondayMy Profile

  3. You just described my week last week! We had some rough nights and busy days and I took more rest days than I wanted to, and/or cut some workouts short. I finally made myself get on the treadmill after the girls were in bed last night and was so glad I did!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…3 Tips to Find Balance through the HolidaysMy Profile

  4. Kim says:

    I stress even when I’m exhausted and know that it is the right choice. I’ve started planning to take the weekend off and that takes away the need to stress. If I get up and don’t have to rush anywhere and feel like it then I go ahead and do a workout but I don’t feel like I have to.
    I love that Carla wrote her comment in song form!!!
    Kim recently posted…Therapy Moves (12/7 – 12/13)My Profile

  5. Jennifer says:

    Wow you had a busy stretch. Hope your eye lid is feeling better and you got some rest. I also feel guilty not working out, luckily the last time in which I did not work out for an extended period of time was in May!
    Jennifer recently posted…Charleston Half Training – 12/8-12/14 – Week 6My Profile

  6. I don’t typically stress over a rest day until I’m forced to take over THREE weeks of rest days. I’m so sick of being sick!! Listen to your body,it will steer you in the right direction…you don’t want to get sick like me!!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…12 Days of Christmas Giveaway: Day 7–VIVOBAREFOOTMy Profile

  7. Yes, sometimes our body tells us we need another rest day.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…I Mustache You Some QuestionsMy Profile

  8. Julieane says:

    I feel you, Coco! This is the most busy season. I have a lot of work deadlines and honestly, I don’t have a time for morning workout. I really need to take a rest day.
    Julieane recently posted…Bedridden for Christmas? Here’s How you can Savor the Holidays in the HospitalMy Profile

  9. I do less than I used to. But I’ve been incredibly stressed the past couple of weeks and not getting enough rest but that’s also when I needed to get out for a run to relieve some of that stress. But I’m still exhausted and realizing (again) that my body is telling me that it’s better to rest right now.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Dear New York Road RunnersMy Profile

  10. Kyle says:

    I rarely take a day off of running and I usually run 10+ times weekly. I think a complete day of rest is not necessary for most people if they have the schedule for it, but regeneration days are certainly essential. A easy half our run at a super relaxed pace or a spin class will not hinder adaptation for most athletes, but will give them a growth hormone boost and burn a few extra calories if they need it.
    Kyle recently posted…Nudity, trail tumbles, and equipment malfunctions; Oh My!My Profile

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I always think of how much I have to be totally grateful for… but reading these posts sooo makes me want to exercise again. So many months now in bed 23/7. If you pray, I would be so appreciative for an answer to fibro. Blessings…

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