Today was another day of absolute rest... I felt like I did nothing that improved my running because... I did nothing. I went to the mall with my sisters... if that counts for anything, but other than standing around for hours and letting my sisters do the shopping, I didn't run. Runners have a hard time with resting. It seems like we think you become weak with one day of not running. Scientifically, it makes sense that the resting period will help the muscles recover, and tapering will help your body recover fully... but why is it that we don't like to do that? Runners are driven people, and what drives us is pushing ourselves forward, pushing our limits. Resting doesn't 'feel' like working. The trap that we commonly find ourselves in is constantly training in order to reach our goals. This is especially true for endurance runners. We convince ourselves that our constant training forces our body to adjust and becomes stronger, but in reality, we usually end up overtraining and lose our strength and speed. Perhaps in the long run, if you manage to get away without injuring yourself, your body may adapt to the harsh training, but it would be better to take a safer path and take that recovery break.
Depending on the runner, recoveries and breaks can be a lot of things. To some, their break is to fully stop their running and just enjoy a book. To others, it is to run 5 miles at an easy pace. The difference being the level and type of athlete, as well as individual preferences. Sometimes, we need to make sure that the numbers aren't controlling the runner, but the runner is controlling the number. Make sure that you are not letting your goal control you and your pace, but you control your pace to achieve your goal. Don't be too strict on yourself and not allow a moment of rest, but instead, let the rules be guidelines that you follow according to what level you are. Some days, you'll go further, while other days, you won't go as far. However, make sure that this doesn't allow you to become lazy and use it as an excuse not to go forward. Know yourself, know your goal, and take the appropriate steps towards that goal at the appropriate time.
When you climb a tall mountain, you can't always just go all out from start to finish. Go slowly and steadily, and use breaks when needed, because with those breaks, it gives you a better chance of finishing. Just as each step forward is important, each resting point is also just as important to the individual, and both of them together will help you reach your goal.