Why Rest Before a Running Race?

February 13, 2012 | by Dr. Jess

Once again, Dr. Gabe Mirkin provides us with interesting research findings on fitness and exercise.  Reprinted with permission.  You can find other articles by Dr. Mirkin at www.drmirkin.com.

Should you train or rest before a major race?

The best way to train a couple of days before an important race or a marathon is to stop training altogether. How long you can exercise a muscle depends on how much sugar you can store in that muscle before you start to exercise. Dr. Dave Costill of Ball State University asked one group of highly- trained runners to jog at a slow pace on the two days prior to measuring their muscle sugars and another group to not jog at all. The runners who didn't jog stored the most sugar.

Studies on bicycle racers show that their muscles will load maximally with sugar when they take a very hard workout four days prior to racing and then ride easily for the next three days. However, running three or four days before a marathon will decrease the amount of sugar that muscles can store, presumably because hard running damages muscles and interferes with their ability to store sugar. There is no evidence that a hard workout in the week before a race will help a runner during that race. Hard training tears down muscles and it take several days for the muscles to heal sufficiently to improve performance. Run at a slow pace on the fifth, fourth and third day before your event, and do not run at all on the last two days.
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Comments

Comment from Shlomo
Time June 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

As training is part of becoming strong, so is rest. letting the body recover will eventually make it stronger and work more efficiently.