We examine the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Sometimes it’s the simplest or most fundamental elements of training that both coaches and athletes overlook. When you’ve been training and competing for almost your entire life, it can be hard to think back to the basics. However, for many runners, especially those who are just getting started, it’s critical to learn and understand the fundamentals.
One of these basic, yet very important questions is this: What should you be doing during the rest periods between hard repeats? Do you stand around, walk for a bit, or just keep on running?
The answer to the question isn’t as simple as it may seem, which is why I wanted to dedicate an article to the topic.
The manner in which you undertake your rest interval can impact how quickly you recover between repeats. Moreover, strategically manipulating the rest can offer unique training benefits and provide a new, challenging stimulus to stale workouts.
In this article, I’ll outline four different ways you can approach your rest intervals, the benefit and use case for each, and some unique ways you can mix up how you approach rest intervals to add a new stimulus to your training.
Generally, standing rests are best for when the rest interval is pitifully short, say 30 to 60 seconds. In these cases, you only have a few seconds after you catch your breath before you have to get back to running hard. Standing will allow you to recover as much as possible during your scant rest period.
RELATED: The Importance Of Recovery Intervals
Standing, or more accurately depicted as the hunched-over, hands-on-your-knees, sucking air pose, is not typically a resting position of choice. However, when you’re performing some intense workouts, there aren’t a lot of options available.
You should use the brief time between repeats to take a deep breath, calm your breathing, and mentally pump yourself up for another lap or two around the track.
Unique Use Case
The main drawback to using a standing rest all the time is that it doesn’t efficiently allow blood to flow to the muscles. After about 60 seconds, simply standing around will tighten your muscles and actually make it more difficult to get started again. Knowing this, we can use the standing rest to our advantage.
When training for the marathon, one of the goals is to prepare your mind and legs for that “dead” feeling that typically occurs after 18 or 20 miles. By strategically implementing a standing rest between long tempo intervals, for example 2 x 5 miles or 2 x 6 miles, you can simulate this feeling without having to first run 18 miles. As such, you’re able to prepare your mind and body for how to run through this feeling on race day. This is one of the hallmarks of the Hansons infamous 2×6 mile workout.
Walking is usually the best option for rest periods between one and three minutes. After the initial fatigue from finishing the previous repeat dissipates, walking slowly will help keep the blood flowing to your muscles without adding any additional aerobic stress.
RELATED: Train To Recover
If you’re still gasping for air as you walk about, put your hands on your head. Staying upright helps open the diaphragm, letting in precious oxygen.
In my opinion, walking is the default rest option and should probably be utilized the most frequently.