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Guilt and Exercise

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Email time again

Recently, a sweet reader asked:

Hi Katie! I just found your blog and read through your whole FAQ Page! Thanks for the source of procrastination from my homework!  And it was so well-written and thorough too. I really enjoyed reading it. But I noticed you wrote that you don’t run ever day, only like 5 times week. I was wondering if you feel guilty on days off? I always feel like I should be doing something on my rest days, even though I’ve heard that it’s better for your body to not run every single day and you’ll actually get faster if you give yourself rest days. I was wondering what you thought about this? Do you ever feel bad about not running every day?

I don’t feel guilty about rest days from running, although I do sometimes have to force myself to take them (especially if it’s beautiful outside!).  One of the reasons I run is to be healthy, so if I did run every day, I wouldn’t feel healthy.  I feel healthy knowing I’m giving my body the rest it needs.  Plus, if I ran every single day without ever taking a break, running might start feeling like a chore (burnout) instead of something I look forward to doing.  It’s like holidays: if every day were a holiday, they might start to lose their appeal.  When I force myself to take a day off from running, it only makes me that much more excited for the next day, when I can get back out there!

I run because I love it.  If you loved to paint, for example, but missed it one day because you didn’t have time or didn’t feel like doing it, would you feel guilty for not painting that day?  Of course not.  You’d feel sad, maybe, but not guilty. And some people might not agree with me (everyone’s entitled to his/her own opinion!), but I wholeheartedly believe that rest days are crucial for achieving top performance and staving off injury.

If you over-train, you put yourself at high risk for injuries that could end up sidelining you for much more than a rest day (as I almost found out the hard way).

With rest, your muscles and energy stores get a chance to repair and rebuild, helping you to become faster and stronger. So take those rest days, girl!  And feel good about yourself, knowing that you’re truly taking care of your body.

Molly’s a fan of rest days too!


(She might like rest a little too much) 😉

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. sisrocks1996 says:

    Eating, exercise, not going out enough etc.

    I’m a people pleaser too and I would give anything to make everyone happy!

    I don’t run on the daily. I try to cross train, do yoga, but I don’t do rest days well so I’m done taking them off completely. I get anxious and grouchy.

  2. *Andrea* says:

    i love your analogy to painting – of course you won’t feel guilty taking a day off from a hobby, so simple of a concept yet often not made. i feel guilty A LOT if i miss a workout or eat too much carbs or desserts 🙁 i’m getting better though! i also feel guilty for not partying/drinking enough since i’m in college and my school is known for being a ‘drunken jcrew catalog’ haha.

  3. I am a huge people pleaser. Are you a first born? I am, and I always want to make everyone happy. ALWAYS!

    I always take one day off from working out. I’ve NEVER felt guilty. Rest time is part of exercise – your body needs to rest to recover properly. I try to take off Sundays – that’s the one day I don’t have to be in the gym. 🙂

  4. Melinda says:

    I don’t feel guilty if I don’t do or do actually do something one day because tomorrow is another day (although if you say that every day nothing even gets accomplished). I try to exercise as often as I can and I have been getting in 4-5 days a week and changing up my routine, so I feel about about that. But on weeks I only make it 2 times I do not feel guilty because I know I was busy making a difference in someone’s life somewhere (I teach college and some work with middle/high schoolers) so I am ok with those rewards as they help to keep me healthy too. I wish I had time for everything and I guess that is what I feel guilty about, I just run out of time everyday.

  5. molly says:

    No worries – I would read an entire blog dedicated to Fudge Babies. 😉
    As for running, I had an interesting experience this cross country season. I did take a rest day or two or week over the summer, but I was running hard every day. I got it in my head that running should be challenging and hard every day.
    When I started practicing with the team, every single run FELT hard, even the easy days.
    My amazing coach pulled me out of practice with the team and gave me an entire month of running longer distances, but running at a pace that was easy. I was definitely frustrated with myself.
    But last week, when I practiced with the team, not only was I still in the exact same place in the group as always, the work-out felt GOOD, and I had the lowest recovery heart rate in my group.

    anyway, the point is that not pushing yourself to your limit every single day is good for your body – I got stronger when I let my body recover instead of continuing to push myself.

  6. Great post, as usual. I have been dealing with this recently. I feel so guilty when I don’t make it to the gym and miss a workout. I know that my body needs rest and time off but it still makes me feel guilty. I am learning to accept rest as a necessary part of being fit and healthy.

  7. I love reading about your fudge babies! I may just have to make myself another batch, or two, this weekend!

    I spend too much time feeling guilty about food and exercise – I just make an effort to do exercise I enjoy and to make healthy eating fun so I don’t want to do the things that make me feel guilty so much. Though I do have more of a tendency to take too many rest days!

  8. kbwood says:

    great post girl! i used to exercise everyday, but my body loves me so much more when i let it take a break. if i let it rest, i go back to my runs stronger and with more energy.

  9. Beth S. says:

    I feel so quilty when I take my off days from running ( 2 per week). I also feel guilty on my running days as I feel like I don’t do enough! I guess it’s a lose lose situation for me.

  10. Jessica says:

    I really love running too (when I can get outside and not on a treadmill!) I feel guilty on my days off, even though I know my body needs the rest. I just don’t want to be a bum!

    I have a hard time saying “no” to people. I don’t like to disappoint anyone, but it eventually becomes overwhelming!

  11. Jenny R. says:

    this might sound kind of strange…but I have a favourite spin class taught by a certain teacher at my gym and I love it so much that I only let myself do it once a week so that I don’t get sick of it. On the other days I do my own workouts (non spin workouts like running, eliptical, weights, walking).
    The thing I feel guilty about is when I have too much work to take Cheddar for the long walks we both adore. Especially lately…he’s been getting shorter walks 🙁 Poor boy. Maybe I’ll make him some carob-babies to make up for it ;P

  12. katherine says:

    I definitely take rest days from running. If I don’t, I am much more prone to injury. I do try to stay active on my “rest days” though, and usually go for a long walk with my dog or something!

  13. I am such a people-pleaser too! I’ve been really working on learning to say “no” and not feel guilty about it… it is really hard!

  14. Danielle says:

    I love running too. I used to feel guilty about taking rest days, especially because I never felt sore and I felt like I still had energy so they didn’t seem necessary. So over the summer I decided to skip most of my rest days…which was a badddd idea. I eventaully did become sore all the time and exhausted. Moral of the story: even if you don’t feel like you need a break, sometimes you do!

    And I never get tired of reading about fudge babies 🙂

  15. erintakescontrol says:

    I love cardio/strength training. I do it as much as possible and don’t seem to get tired of it. I do throw yoga into the mix maybe once a week, my son loves Warrior I, II, and III! As for guilt, I always feel guilty about the time I spend away from my son. I work…A LOT. I wish I could stay at home (enter my fantasy of winning the lotto!) but bills must be paid to stay afloat. I really try to make special the time we do have together, but I still feel guilty!

  16. Chrysta says:

    Great post. I actually learned about this the hard way. I was one of those people that felt horrible about taking a rest day too. Then I just bonked out one day. I literally was on the elliptical at the gym and i had no more to give. I had to get off and sit down. I totally drained my body of all its resources! Lesson learned! I now only workout 5 days a week. If Im having a super busy week sometimes just 4 days. I realize now that this is a lifestyle not just a mandatory exercise regiment. I workout cause I love the way it makes me feel but I wont spend time feeling bad about it if I take a day off cause I know I will get right back to it the next day. Plus in the whole scope of of two days off isnt going to make a difference=) Wow sorry to type so much. I just wanted to share about this since its something I recently learned the importance of. Take your rest days!!=)

    Oh and Katie just so you know I totally look forward to reading about your babies! It totally makes me smile. So write on girl and keep rockin it!

  17. Ha! We’re not sick of fudge babies and don’t worry about not having time to answer every comment. I used to feel that way, but I’ve since realized that I just don’t have time…I try to make it to everyone’s blogs but it’s not possible everyday.

    As for exercise, I work at my gym (or sometimes hula hoop at home or do workout videos) 5 days a week. The other two days are rest days. Some weeks I get too busy to make 5 days, and that does make me feel guilty (and fat…I have body dysmorphia, I know…but I do have a fat girl inside).

  18. Abby says:

    Bring on the fudge babies!

    As for taking a break from working out.. yeah sometimes. BUT I feel better when Im outdoors and active so I might “do less” but not sit on my bum bum the whole day. Just like you enjoy running, I enjoy walking so if I feel like taking a nice long stroll ,I do it!

    Have a super day, Katie 🙂

  19. Kate says:

    I used to NEVER take rest days. I’d run and give it my everything until there was literally nothing left of me. I was worn out, over-trained, and in the end I ended up injured and unable to run for about a month earlier this year. Since then I have learned to “listen to my body” and do what feels right physically and mentally instead of pushing my self to the limits with intense exercise. I also used to have a terrible time with feeling guilty for missing a workout or a run, but thankfully now I can easilly take several days off if I need to without much of a second thought. This week I have been sidelined from running so I have tried something new instead – swimming!

    Having an ED, I naturally have a lot of irrational “guilts”, but I won’t go too much into that. I am trying to overcome that little by little and I’ll admit that I’ve already come a long way from where I was just several months ago (a lot of that due to blogging support).

    Don’t stop the fudge babies! It’s not like you’re the only one in love with them. Hahah. It’s YOUR blog and you have every single right to post about whatever YOU want! Just enjoy it girl, don’t worry about what anyone else says!

    Have a great day Katie!

  20. I love the Fudge Baby mentions, Katie! No worries there at all!! You can talk about ’em and share photos and recipes for ’em as much as you like!!!

    I feel guilty for spending sooooooooooo much time on the computer with freelance projects, taking care of emails for writing/blog/review/contest/PR-related stuff, and all else that goes into being a freelance writer and blogger.

    I know I should take more breaks, live life more, exercise more, and just give my brain a rest – yet I keep going….

    Love the post, Katie.

    And I think most people realize it isn’t humanly possible for us to visit every single blog that visits ours. I do try to check out the links my readers leave with their comment info but sometimes it isn’t for a few days (or weeks) until I can get time to do it. I certainly can’t visit and comment on every blog I love or find out about every single day. I just don’t have time. Too bad life isn’t all about 100% blog-related stuff. LOL 😉



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