Rest days are essential to training

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summe Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

I don't notice how tired I am until I hop into bed at night. It's my first chance to stop and think about myself. It's a great time to stretch and work through any aches and pains. It's also an opportunity to reflect upon my recent workouts, good and bad.

I ask myself (and you can do the same): "Did I get that hard speed workout done?" If you had to skip it, like I sometimes do, figure out when you can get it in this week.

I do my long runs on Wednesdays because it works best with my schedule. What's your best long run day? Make sure your training plan works for you and whatever you have coming up this week. It may be different from week to week, and that's OK.

Always try to think ahead, that way you can adjust your training to accommodate what's going on in your life. Use quiet moments, when you can find them, to assess your situation and figure out how your body is feeling.

I know how important days off and easy days are for your health and training. You become addicted to running long distances. You look at your mileage and say things like, "I can't believe I just ran 13 miles!" You get addicted, even to being tired, and that's how you get used to functioning.

A day that calls for just three easy miles or, better yet, an off day, makes you stop in your tracks. That can't be all I have to do today. You need to recognize that those days count as much as the 13-mile days; they are just as important to your training as your sprints. Actually, your easy days are even more important.

You need to give your muscles a chance to rebuild and allow your body to repair itself, otherwise you won't be able to keep going. None of us want to be sidelined by injury, especially after working so hard. That's why you have to be smart and take those days off.

Summer can't stop singing this week, whether it's Elton John's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," or her kids' favorite Fun album, "Some Nights." Her favorite weekend tune to carry you through your upcoming tough workouts: Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

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