There’s no shortage of life/marathon metaphors. You can even forget the marathon– life/running analogies are aptly plentiful. Day by day as I go through the training for this race in November, my running and my writing and even my relationships all seem to be reflecting similar lessons and themes.
Earlier this week in my weekly wrap-up post I mentioned how taking two days of rest a week is having a really positive effect on me. I’ve been working out six days a week for years and have only modified my schedule because my marathon training plan has suggested it. Everyone’s got to find what’s right for them. I get it. I smiled when I read a lot of the comments for that post because a lot of people mentioned that they do six days a week and clarified that one of those days was an “active recovery” or lighter day. I used to sometimes count my yoga days as an off day, but if I am being honest with myself, 90 minute Bikram classes don’t really qualify as rest. I get it though, six days works for some people best, especially when you are as active as many of us are and feel like you’ve got to keep things moving. I feel lucky that I live in the city and a typical day has me walking at least a few miles, so I’m rarely sedentary.
What I’m feeling though with two days rest has been eye opening. By the end of these recovery days my muscles feel settled, like the work I have put into them in the days before has been massaged into their fibers and found it’s place. I have yet to feel iffy or unsure on a run because my body doesn’t feel like it’s under stress. I always work hard but now it feels like I’m working hard with less waste; I’m performing better during runs and training sessions because I’ve actually reserved energy for them.
That reserved energy is exactly what’s been missing from my writing this week. I’ve got no OOMF, I’ve been dragging ass for days. It’s been quite clear that I need to apply the same rest theory to other aspects of my life. Not only to avoid burnout, but also to achieve the type of performance I am really striving for. Exhausted, I’ve found myself writing posts and reading other blogs with one eye open. I’ve actually written comments and then erased them; after rereading I’ve thought, “You’re not even making sense girl, go to bed.”
There’s a lot I want to achieve so it can get really hard to not be “on” all the time. Training though is really making me see things more clearly, I am starting to identify what serves me and what doesn’t. I’ve now heard from countless coaches and experts the same mantra: Rest days are equally as important as training days. What’s exciting is that I think I am finally finding a way to get this through my thick type A skull. If rest is just as valuable to my performance as training, then I have to give it the same full effort. So, an extra quick 2 mile run on a rest day because I’m antsy or ate a doughnut over the weekend is not giving my full effort–I am not going to get what I actually need for my next training day. Similarly, staying up to outline future posts or flesh out ideas on my notepad is not taking a break from writing; my brain is not going to refresh in the way that I need it to. Instead my words will be stuck in the same traffic jam they’ve been in all week; I’ll yell and beep my horn–or stare at my computer and pound the keys in frustration. All the while, I’m missing my rejuvenation. When I step away from my laptop even for a day, my brain resets, the juices start flowing, and inspiration is endless. It’s never been more clear–for me, in order to do the things I want to do well, sometimes, I have to not do them. As crazy as it sounds, I have to push myself to not push myself. Of course running and writing after rest can still be hard, but when I’ve got the clarity and the stamina to power through and keep going, almost inevitably, joy is at the finish line.
What about you? Anything get infinitely better when you take a pause from it? I know there’s got to be some “I’ll rest when I’m dead” folks out there–what do you think? Is this rest stuff bologna or what?