Couch to 5K
60,546 members93,186 posts

Is it REALLY necessary to have a rest day in between runs? I am on W3R2

Although 30lbs overweight, I have been going to the gym to do various cardio and strength training on and off for over a year now. I am doing C25k to lose weight, get fit and eventually run 5k races.

Yesterday I completed W3R1 on the treadmill. My legs were not tired at all (I can leg press 200lbs), but I struggled with my breathing. I really wanted to try the run again today - I have no aches and pains, but followed Laura's advice. So today I did some strength training on my legs, then 20 minutes of interval training on the elliptical machine. I still feel like I want to run though.....

In these early weeks the runs are no longer than 10 or 12 minutes in total and aside from my workouts I am relatively sedentary (I work from home). So my question is. Should I still have a rest day, even though I feel physically able to run?

9 Replies

Yes. One of the reasons that people 'fail' with exercise is because of going at it like a bull at a gate and that's one of the merits of C25K: it isn't all about what it gets you to do, it is at least partly about what it stops you from doing.

The non-running days are still busy days for your body - repairing and building on the work you did the day before. If you are feeling itchy to do something. that's great: you've already you can still do non-running gym stuff, or swim or cycle or walk. I note you say you've been doing stuff 'on and off' - following C25K helps make exercise part of your life rather than 'on and off'

Picking up avoidable injuries will hold you back (and be a bad advert for running). And what's the rush?

It is really hard to resist sometimes though!




Good God yes!!


Mummyluvsyoo- I cant imagine not having a rest day!!

Ive luckily not felt any twinges to stop me running (early days though) but I can understand that my body needs time to recover. I dont want to push myself and either get injured or get dispondent that Ive not the energy to keep going.

I do a lot of walking imbetween my runs and I think that helps keep me moving but doesn't overstretch me. I may perk up to a bit of swimming soon.

You seem to be doing loads of other exercise as well as this programme, stuff which should use different muscles in different ways?

I suppose really everyone is different at the end of the day, but dont do too much and do yourself a mischief!!



yes, for sure. When we exercise, and push ourselves, we break down muscle tissue. The rest day allows us to repair that tissue and (in response to the load it received) build additional muscle to cope with the load. If you run every day, you interfere with that repair process. If you rest, you become stronger and stronger each time. You need to build some of that muscle now so that your body is able to cope with the more demanding runs you face as you progress through C25K. You will tone up and burn some fat along the way. You may not lose 'weight' (you may even put a little on) as muscle is more dense/heavier than fat, but you will likely lose some inches and you for sure feel great. When you are running regular 30 minutes (or more) runs regularly i.e. 3 times a week, you will really help your weight loss. That extra muscle you will have by then will help you burn more calories, so it's all good news to rest now ;-)

I totally get the desire to run every day, and in the early part of the programme I also had strong urges to run every day, however, there are plenty of other things you can do (sound like you already are doing) and some will complement your running and help you to manage your weight and fitness in the meantime.


Yes, yes, yes! When the running bug bites it can be hard to stick to them, but rest days are a very important part of the programme. You will appreciate them in later runs! Perhaps find some other exercise (eg cycling, swimming) for those days?


I agree with everyone who has posted! You need those recovery days even if you feel ready to go for it. I know for me, I appreciated every single rest day I could get! :-) Gayle


Thanks for all your replies. I appreciate that a rest from running is necessary. My gym attendance has been sporadic - although more "on" than "off". I do have a pattern with exercise of going for it for a two or three weeks then stopping for a week or two.

I will "honour" the C25k rest days, and do some strength training and cardio on my non running days. Elliptical is low impact - even though I did have it on the highest incline possible! And the strength training will help build my leg muscles. Looking forward to my run tomorrow!


The other thing to bear in mind is that if the motivation is to lose weight there can be a sneaky little element of self-flagellation in there which leads to overdoing things. And impatience for results because of the failure to accept that its a life change you're looking at.

I think if I hadn't got some sort of perspective on this I would have given up running because it was finding I was obese that pushed me into it and I've not lost anything like as much weight as I'd hoped. I now think in terms of the activity making being overweight less risky and actually losing weight being the icing on the cake (it has just started to shift again after I started doing more interval training, which is effectively what the early part of C25K is)


Absolutely! I agree with everyone who has commented here.You MUST follow the system-don't question it, just follow. If you don't and persist with exercising on your "rest" day, then you can expect injuries. Follow the programme that the experts have put a lot of work into devising and you cannot go wrong. I have just Graduated with no injuries, a weight loss of 5kgs in 9 weeks, and I could not run before I did this programme. I am clinically obese. The advice is there for you to follow, but your choice in the end. Good luck.


You may also like...