A few years ago, while training for my first marathon, there came the first Sunday where we did a long run - either 23, 27 or maybe even 32 - and I felt so good on that run, that the next day I decided to head to the gym and do 30 minutes on the bike and 30 minutes on the stairmaster.
The day after, for our 6km tempo, my legs felt like lead, and I felt horrible. I didn't understand why I felt so cruddy...Until I realized that I hadn't taken the time to rest after our long run (which as I recall was the first time I'd run whatever distance it was that we had done).
No matter how strong you feel, or how good your legs feel the day after a long run, it's important to remember to take that rest day. When you become so invested in your training because you've spent weeks and months training towards a goal, it can sometimes feel like copping out to take a night off and just let your legs recover.
As marathon or half-marathon runners, many of us tend to be Type-A personalities that find it difficult to stop and do nothing, even for just a night. But even professional athletes take rest days. Much like savsana at the end of yoga practice is an important way to let your body absorb the work you have done, allowing your body to rest after long runs or days of high exertion will mean that you arrive at that start line on race day stronger and injury-free.
This article from Runners World does a good job of explaining the benefits and importance of rest days
Rest easy, runner friends! Then we'll be back at 'er tomorrow!