I just read part of what I believe is a triathlon book about rest and stress. It was photo copied and given to me in my triathlon group. I'm really glad I read this, because today is my rest day and I am feeling guilty for not being active and that totally shouldn't be the case.
The article says to imagine your workouts and rest on a richter scale. The high parts represent stress on your body (workouts, work, everyday stress) and the low troughs represent rest. So as you increase intensity and amount of stress on your body the troughs get lower, representing the need for more rest.
When I do have full-out rest days, I can feel it in my workouts after the rest period. I can go out harder, a tad faster and overall, I feel better about the workout. But I also get this feeling of GUILT when I have a rest day, like I'm doing something wrong. Why is it so hard to do nothing?!
I try to keep my diet in check, especially on rest days because that is what usually makes me feel gross on those days. I tend to eat the same amount of food on rest days as I do on hard workout days and my body really doesn't need those extra calories. The article also said, one day of not doing anything physically and eating poorly isn't going to make you fat and loose your fitness level, a week probably won't do it either. I need to keep this in mind on my rest days because I think that is what is making me feel so guilty. I've worked so hard to get where I am right now that I would be SO dissapointed in myself if I were to let everything go, but A DAYS REST IS GOOD AND WILL NOT SET ME BACK! IT WILL HELP ME GET BETTER AND STRONGER!
So I have one full day of rest planned into my schedule and one very easy day. And if I feel as if I need more rest, I'll listen to my body and happily lay on the couch and watch 24. : )