Today on RUN with Coach Parry we discuss an issue that every runner faces at some stage, when you run and when to rest. If your legs are feeling sore and tired, do you push through and train or do you skip the session?

Should you run on tired legs? Or should you rest?

BRAD
This question is hilarious, I absolutely love it. It says when do you follow a training programme and when do you listen to your body? How much tiredness do you push through as mileage increases or you’re running on tired legs?

LINDSEY
It’s a question that can actually only be answered through experience. So you don’t want to be exhausted all the time. And I would say that if you’re tired in your legs and your body, that would be a perfect indication of a time where pushing through the programme is not sensible if your legs are a bit tired, but you actually feel otherwise, generally fine and when you are running, you tend to feel a bit better once you’ve been going for 15-20 minutes, that’s probably the kind of fatigue that you could push through. However, if it then continues to get worse, so in other words, by running a bit easier, you’re not getting better, then you do have to factor in a little bit of extra rest.

I mean, in short, that is your body telling you that it can’t cope. So there should be some fatigue present. Because we don’t improve fitness without some fatigue, but you can’t be walking around exhausted all the time. We do this or fun after all, and I think that is something to remember and not even pro athletes would thrash themselves through workouts if they’re not getting what they’re supposed to be getting out of each workout. So I think that’s the sensible line there. Exhausted and sore legs = rest. Tired legs, but if you run a little bit slower, it feels a bit better and the next day it’s better, that you can carry on training through.

BRAD
Absolutely. And missing a training session’s not going to kill you. You don’t miss lots of them and particularly training for like a Comrades, you don’t want to be missing the long runs because those are really important. But missing an 8k midweek is not going to affect your Comrades come race day.

LINDSEY
No, absolutely not. If you find that you have to rest an extra day, every single week, then the balance of your programme is wrong and you need to adjust for it that the key workouts as you pointed out are the long runs, so try not to miss those. And yes, every two or three weeks, if you are slipping one of your shorter runs, that’s not going to affect your consistency. It’s going to have almost no impact on your performance on race day, but pushing yourself through those workouts and getting sick or injured, that’s definitely going to impact whether you finish or not.

BRAD
Absolutely. And getting on the right training programme is key as well. We see it so often particularly again around Comrades where somebody is training on the silver training programme because they want to make sure that they finish under 12 hours when they are nowhere close to a silver medalist and you’re actually doing more damage than good by training that way. You need to find a training programme that’s very specific to you. There are Comrades training programmes that you can get through coachparry.com. Or if you’re looking for one on one individual help, you can get it on that website as well.

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