The Best at Rest

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?

 

40 thoughts on “The Best at Rest

  1. Pingback: Week #3: “I Love Structure, but I miss my Hubs” – cat h. bradley

  2. Hey Cat! When I was bike racing I always took 2 rest days a week – usually a Monday & Friday, so when I started marathon training I kept the same training rhythm. Monday’s always a rest day – I do nothing. Zero. I make myself a great breakfast and enjoy taking it easy. Mostly I’ll take Friday’s off too, although if I wake early, and it’s a nice morning, I might head out on the bike for an easy spin. It’s not just the physical rest, my brain needs the rest too. I look forward to my rest days, I hope you enjoy yours too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Ali, really enjoying the rest days! Looking forward to one tomorrow, I’m really loving the Monday/Friday rest schedule, great way to start and end the work week! I think you’re right about the brain needing rest too–actually has me thinking I might sleep in tomorrow instead of waking up at 430 to write. We will see!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I fell while i was out on a run last month, and bruised my left side pretty good. Sidewalk ate my foot lol. I can’t wait to hear all about when you run NY Marathon. That’s one of my dream marathons! How’s the training going?

    Like

  4. I use to struggle with rest days, lately I’ve done more resting, but my body is telling me to rest. I’m starting to listen to my body. I’ve taken quite a bit of time off these past couple of weeks. Now, I’m getting back to it, starting off slow, because I’ve been injured. Its all good, just listen to your body girl. My rest days, I did yoga. My body felt so good after yoga. Other day’s I just lay in bed and rest my body, getting up to do light stretches. I found if I found something that makes my body feel good, rest days were a breeze.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes a lot of sense Mary. Right now my training plan is actually keeping my neuroses in check–still in the early weeks so mileage is relatively low and sticking with the plan has been healthy for me, I tend to push myself too far at times. We will see how it goes as the weeks follow, I imagine I might need an extra rest day here or there as well! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. MotivatedMomOf6

    I am usually an “I’ll rest when I”m dead” girl. However, I do know that rest can be rejuvenating and even give you the edge you might need to take the lead in whatever it is you might be doing. So in the spirit of resting I will commit to 2 rest days a week for the next 4 weeks. A complete rest though, no social media, no blogs, no work, no class, no running, or working out. Let’s see how this goes….. Thanks for the inspiration Cat!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow!! Alright well you definitely have to keep me posted on this one–I’m guessing you’re gonna have some serious mental clarity coming your way!
      This year I took a huge step back from social media. I canceled my IG and stopped browsing on FB. Now I only go one there really to share my blog and wish people happy birthdays! It’s been a really positive change in my life. Let me know how things go for you!!
      Btw Mama–what is your first name? I looked for it on your blog but couldn’t find it–I can just call you Mom if you want but i figure you might have enough people calling you that already, lol (6 WOW!!!).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. MotivatedMomOf6

        My name is Starr but you’re right most people call me mama or some variation of. Lol

        I remember I would do a total social media blackout during the semester and it was life changing! If I did that now my business would probably sink fast. 2 days a weeks sounds reasonable though. I’ll keep you posted!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Totally into the rest AND naps!!! I learned a few years ago that running consecutive days did not work for me, I kept getting injured!! I worked my training plan so that the two days I run back to back are relatively short runs. Also, that a rest day is followed by a short run (makes me feel like it’s almost a rest day!). I also use Sunday as a rest and reset day…no exercise, no social media, but time for family and the beach!! My other half…the energizer bunny, doesn’t see it the same!! He goes and goes and goes until he drops!!

    Jodi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you’ve got a good system worked out Jodi. I wish I could take naps! With my work schedule now it’s not possible at all but even when I was off they didn’t really work for me. I wake up SO groggy from them I feel hungover and gross. I so wish I was a better napper!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hanna @ minimal marathoner

    How do so many runners NOT enjoy rest days? It’s the best part of training!! I love resting! I guess it helps if you’re just a naturally lazy person like I am.

    I take *at least* 2 full rest days per week. I never run/exercise more than 5 days. Rest is especially important for me in the summer because the heat takes so much more out of me. As I get older and a wee bit more experienced in running I’ve found I like to keep the emphasis on quality workouts balanced with rest, instead of more miles that don’t really do anything for my overall fitness. I’ve struggled with burnout in the past, so it’s really important I find the balance between doing the work to see the fitness gains, and balancing running with the rest of my life so that I can find greater enjoyment in both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m LEARNING to enjoy rest Hanna–training is majorly helping with that! Definitely trying to avoid burnout and I think always taking two days will aid in that effort.
      I think so many of us are just so type A and that usually means go go go. Ironically though that’s not the most efficient way at anything, but efficiency is what we all want!

      Like

      1. Hanna @ minimal marathoner

        Fair enough! I’m not Type A so that’s probably why I struggle to understand the struggle

        Like

  8. I found it hard resting when I was training as well. But I learned for me the best rest was doing a different sport, swimming or cycling at a low intensity. Or i spent a hour to meditate and if your good at visualizing you can see yourself in a race that you signed up for.
    I know when I ran my final Boston I visualized my split times and my final PB with out warring a watch and came in at the time I predicted of 2:39:52

    Like

    1. So true! It’s kind of crazy how it applies to EVERYTHING right? I guess it’s that whole “too much of a good thing” rule. I think part of my prob too is growing up, I got called lazy a lot by my dad. Even though I am an adult now and i know that i am not lazy, I think i still have a big fear that laziness is my natural state, so I push push push to not fall into it. Starting to know and trust myself a bit more now though–my mind and body thank me when I give them a break!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG this is so true haha. I absolutely hated rest days, even though I’d, like, cycle around or do bikram or go for a hike or something. But I have learned recently that exactly what you say is right, your muscles actually feel soooo much better. I love the description as settled, that’s exactly it. So happy you’ve found what’s right for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! Yeah, Bikram is def NOT rest, lol, especially because we both know how sore you can be after a class! Having my rest day today and muscles are feeling good! Funnily enough, I am realizing that I actually feel the most “fit” on my rest days, which may seem counterintuitive since I don’t get that workout high–but I think it’s the “settling”–these muscles are carrying around a lot of miles and work from this week!
      Thanks for reading and sharing! x

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I believe rest is super important and I’m a big believer in its healing power for mind, body, and soul. I ended up having to take an extra rest day this week, but now I’m mentally ready to go again tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Paula–I think that is part of what I was underestimating about rest–how much my MIND needs it, and my SOUL, not just my body. Sometimes I think if I’m laying around then that’s rest. But if my mind is going a million miles a minute and I can’t slow down and relax with my hubs or enjoy a 2 hour movie, then the recuperative rest I really need is not really happening.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I totally can relate! About three years ago before I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, herniated a disc and found out I had a fracture on my tail bone; I was on a roll!! I did the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk (60 miles), multiple 5K’s and started bike training for Seattle to Portland ride. I felt better than ever as all 4 of my children were now grown and independent. Although there was much training invested in each of these events I forgot to train my mind and body to take its time. I was too overjoyed in doing what I truly loved; being out in nature, meeting new people, being active! Sometimes we rush things to happen because we want the accomplishment so we’re able to move on to the next thing but we forget to “stop and smell the roses”. Now, I have goals; goals I know I will have to take my time to accomplish with patience, discipline and more than anything GENTLENESS!

    Stop and smell the roses mama.. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ‘…reading other blogs with one eye open..’ OMG I have been doing that. Lol. I am trying to find the right amount of time for blogging and promoting and creating more content etc. but I haven’t figured out what works yet. This is a great post! Very thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks lady. And don’t worry, you will figure it out. What I find is some days I get it right, and some days I don’t–but it’s all a part of the process and worthwhile. We are learning from all of it. Taking that knowledge from the success or the fall into the next day makes it all so valuable.

      Like

  13. I struggle with rest days too. Life happens and the schedule gets thrown off a day or two. By then it takes a bit to put wind back in my sails but it feels so good at the end! It sounds like you’ve found your sweet spot when it comes to rest days now!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a hard time resting when I was in training. Days when I was resting I did other sports, swimming or cycling at a low intensity. Or what I did was meditate for an hour and if your good at visualization you can see yourself running the race you signed up for.
        I know when I raced my final Boston marathon. I visualized myself runnning the race before I got to the start line. I visualized my splits times and my final PB with out warring a watch.
        My predicted time I came in was 2:39:52. Rest and meditation is a wonderful teacher.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Someone else suggested visualization to me as well–such a great idea. And WOWZA on your time! Congrats on that 😉. I think I’ll just be visualizing finishing! Thanks for sharing!

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s