Resting is hard work. Mentally, it can be challenging to shut down the momentum of several days of great workouts just to let your body rest. I have a real struggle with this at times.
Two thoughts I’d like to explore on this topic:
- Scheduled Rest Days
- Intuitive Rest Days
Intuitive rest days are easy for me. Those are the days when I absolutely feel like I need to rest even though there is a workout on my “schedule”. The days when I am not feeling well, or have an injury, or for some reason just do not feel like I am going to be able to do the workout I had planned. I’ve become very flexible and forgiving with myself when I feel like I need rest. Listening to my body has become a bit easier for me than it used to be.
Scheduled rest days are where I have the most trouble. Monday is my scheduled rest day. This is largely because I don’t work weekends, so it gives me lots of time to get really good workouts in. By the time Monday comes around, I have often worked out 3 or 4 days in a row, and my body truly needs rest time to recover.
The problem is that I seem to build momentum, the more days I workout in a row, the harder it is to put on the brakes because I get “on a roll” and don’t want to stop.
Last Monday was a perfect example of a restless rest day. I had all kinds of energy Monday night and got it in my head that I’d like to go for a swim. I knew darn well that if I got in the pool I was going to swim laps and not just lazily float around and relax. My husband tried to remind me that it was my rest day and it would probably be a better idea for me to, well, you know….REST!
In my stubborn little brain I managed to rationalize it like this: if I am in the mood to do an activity that sounds like fun and I just want to do it, and it is not a specific training that is on my schedule, then I should go ahead and do it right?
Resting is just taking a break from my scheduled training right? Wrong. Rest is giving your body time to recover and rebuild from all the exertion you have put it through in your days of training. You cannot keep tearing down your muscles and expect them to keep performing if you don’t give them time to rebuild.
The night my husband saved my life
(Or at least that’s the title he would give it!)
So on my “rest day”, I decided to head up to the pool around 8:00 p.m. Against my husbands good advice.
I had been swimming laps for about 10 minutes when I started hearing loud rumbling coming from the sky. I looked up to see the sky filling up with thick grey clouds punctuated with quick flashes of lightning. There was, however, a nice little patch of clear blue sky directly overhead – which my stubborn brain used to rationalize that there was no reason to get out of the pool.
A few minutes of swimming under the sounds of rumbling in the sky and a concerned neighbor came up to the fence. She asked how the water was. And as we made small talk she kept glancing at the sky, then back at me. Finally she asked if I’d noticed the lightning. I assured her if I saw much more of that, then I would get out of the pool.
Shortly after this I looked up and saw my husband Jim standing at the gate of the pool looking at me with concern on his face. He thought the threatening weather might be a good reason for me to get out of the pool. “Just 4 more laps and I’ll be done”, I told him. I felt like a child begging for more play time from a concerned parent.
As I came back to that side of the pool from the next lap, I looked up and found Jim still standing there. With so much concern on his face, I don’t think I’d ever seen him look at me like that before. So I got out of the pool.
Walking back to our condo, we joked a little about how would he explain to people if I had been hit by lightening in the pool just minutes after he asked me to get out. I teased that now I would only get to log that I did 28 laps instead of a nice even 30. His reply was “Go ahead and log your 28 laps, but make sure to tell the whole story of how your husband saved your life tonight!”. So here is my tribute to my loving husband, who saved my life on my restless rest day.
Now, clearly you could construe this post as being about the perils of swimming during a lightning storm. But no, that is actually not my point here.
My point is that I really needed to rest my body on that day (even though I didn’t feel like I needed rest) and instead I allowed myself to be foolish just to, what? I don’t know, prove that I could keep going day after day after day? I don’t know what I thought I was doing. But I do know that I woke up the next morning with an overuse injury in my groin muscle and my right calf. And I couldn’t do my scheduled run that night and was forced to take a rest day. And another the day after that.
In the end, my restless rest day cost several days of training from my week and a fair amount of needless pain from overexertion injury that could have been avoided by giving the Rest Day the respect it deserves.