Benefits of rest?

Had an enforced "rest" from running (had to fit in 4 taekwon-do classes) for over a week. Went back to "run" (well, run-walk) my usual 5k route for the first time yesterday not knowing what to expect. Legs felt MUCH stronger (not an ache or pain in sight), breathing easier, beat my PB. Also strange thing, got on our (albeit slightly wonky and unpredictable) scales yesterday and have lost - apparently - 6lb in the last week. This is after exercising like mad since January and not losing anything!
And the scales say the same today, so can't be a fluke - can it?

Is this NORMAL? I know rest days are good and why, but didn't expect such a dramatic change after a week off. And what about the weight loss? Is there some wierd biological process whereby your body burns calories faster when it's given a break?


  • I have observed similar effects from enforced rests, and that weight gain does not appear to be all that closely correlated with calorie intake and exercise in the short term.

    The improved performance after rests seems to me to suggest that muscles take a while to process the benefits of exertion. Conjecture: it actually takes a long time (days? a week?) for the construction of new/improvement in efficiency of old muscles to be effected. In the meantime, it seems almost as if repeated demands on the muscles slow this improvemnet process down.

    About weight loss, the fluctuations I notice are more in the region of four pounds, which I always attributed to variability in water retention for hormonal or other reasons. I've never figured out what effect, if any, rest has on that.

    At any rate, enjoy the quantum leap in Can Do!
  • So pleased to read your message Fi. Lat Monday I had a cold. Over the week it came and went so I carried on regardless hoping it would just pass away and ran a feeble 5k race on Saturday. Exercise usually blows these things away..not this time, though :-( Hit me Sunday...flu like cold and had me bedridden yesterday and I'm only feeling a bit better today. I decided to take the week off of exercise now to recuperate properly as I've a race next Sunday. I'll pick it back up then and treat it as a training run. With any luck I am now hoping I might feel stronger legged too.
  • Hi- The body can ONLY improve during recovery periods and that is why in the main,depending on the intencity you have trained , improvement can be seen. It also suggest that you are ready to up the level of intencity of your training after which another rest should show even more improvement. That is the basic law of training to improve and the rest - train cycle can refer to a single session , a week or month period or longer. A three month training period is ideal to keep progressing.

    As for the weight loss there is a theory which is quite basic. If you are only doing slow pace running your body will mainly use fat. Carbohydrate will only start to be used for higher pace running.Fat can only be used in aerobic zones, Carbohydrate can be used in both aerobic and anarobic zones but mainly anaerobic. So if you are mainly doing slow pace running your body gets to know this and creates extra storage for it. So when you rest your body will realise this and not store so much , hence a weight loss can be seen. But please dont get to excited it is short lived.

    All the best Ron.
  • Thanks for your comments, folks.

    Stickless - I was hoping to enjoy my new quantum leap, but appear to have a cold very similar to Keswick1uk which is at its worst today after hanging about for 10 days or so. Maybe shouldn't try running with it after all.

    Keswick - hope you have a similar spurt after your "sick leave" though! Do come back and tell me, we can do a mini-experiment!

    Ron - hi there, thanks for all that info. Chuffed me to hear that you think I am ready to up the intensity of my training! And I like the idea of working hard for a set period - maybe 3 months - and then planning a week-long rest without guilt. Don't quite get the fat/carbohydrate thing. Are you saying that I will or won't be burning fat with slow-paced running? Also that I'll put it all back on? :( Hell, I can cope, it was fun while it lasted! :)
  • Hi Fiona. About Fat burning.
    The reason most articals give the advice and impression is because in most cases the people who want to lose weight are not fit enough to perform at a high intencity. Also of course it is nice and hence encouraging to hear. The facts however are:

    Yes you will mainly burn fat as fuel at low intencity ie 50-70% of maxHR.

    However at higher intencity 70-85% you will lose more Calories which will include more Fat. But not everyone will be able to run or perform exercise long enough to actualy make this work. So that is why the lower intencity level usaly produces the best results with fat loss , simply because they can perform for longer.

    Please remember this.

    If you can perform at 75% it will produce TWICE as much benefit as 50%

    If you can perform at 75-85% it promotes about 33% greater FAT METABOLISM ( which is what it is all about realy ) than working at lower or higher intencity.
    This is quite hard work. I have not related as to how long you should work for because it depends on individual situations. But bear in mind it needs to be at least 20minutes and if able to do so 45minutes.

    There is no evidence to prove that longer periods than 45 minutes are needed. In fact that goes for any type of training.
    Unless you are being guided by an experienced coach, use the old theory of Hard easy with two days off each week.

    If you can do speed work than do so.

    All the best Ron.
  • EP - in your case (remembering some of your other postings) you still need to build up your base mileage first. This is great, burns lots of fat calories and gets your weight down.

    What Ron is saying (correct me if I'm wrong, Ron) is that once you run fairly comfortably at steady pace for maybe four sessions of 40 mins per week you should build in some more intense work to your programme. At first just once a week is probably best. This will burn more fat calories in absolute terms and, as V-rap mentioned on Fat Club the other day, will also leave your metabolism raised for some time after your run, meaning you burn calories even after you've finished running.

    It will also speed you up so in future you can run further in a given period of time. Calories burnt relates to distance (100 per mile for someone of average weight), so the further you can go in (say) a 60 minute session the better. Don't overdo anything too early though and the usual advice is to build distance before speed.
  • Hi Evil Pixie ( why are you called that )
    What Glenn has written is correct. As I have said the real problem with weight loss training is that most people can only train at low intencity to start with due to their fitness levels. But once you can increase pace that is the way forward. Dont get stuck in the I must do long slow run modes. That belongs to the late 70's early 80's To gain benefit from training it never need be longer than 45minutes.

    As for using a HRM yes for the reasons I previously explained they are a useful aid.

    Try to get as good a monitor as you can afford certainly with memory and zone control. Polar do a verygood range.

    Good Luck with trying to lose 2 Stone. You will need to do this in stages. Aim for about 6 ibs at a time you should get there in time to put your Bikini on next summer!!

    All the best Ron.
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