Rest and running are two activities that go hand in hand. It’s funny to think of “rest” as an activity, even hard to classify it as such, but without participating in rest, runners deprive their bodies of much-needed recovery time. That being said, this week, I learned about granting myself permission to engaging in both rest AND running.
How I Avoided Rest
Once I was cleared for “walking as exercise”, I committed to doing so every day. My rationale was that I could speed or power walk three days a week, and then go for more of a stroll the rest of the days. It felt like a reasonable plan, and as long as my leg and body could tolerate the activity, I wouldn’t be doing any harm. After all, what could be better than walking out in the fresh air? I added in some strength training and continued my PE exercises, all in the anemic of getting stronger and pushing to my end goal. When I got there, I would schedule rest and running (walking days interspersed with running days) and not pay it another thought.
I confess, this attitude towards rest and running might be considered a little disordered. It’s something with which I struggle. Being sidelined has been difficult: I don’t want to lose fitness and gain weight, and therefore I push harder in exercise. I talk a big game about taking it slow and being prudent, but on the inside, I want so badly to be back out there, pushing to the next step. Smart? Nope. But that’s the truth and if I am going to make anywhere close to a full recovery, I need to be honest with myself about the ways in which I can go too far.
Learning To Be Ok With Rest
On Mother’s Day, I planned to start my morning with a walk. I got up, took care of Luna, and prepared to head out, only to be faced with a torrential downpour. I knew we were having brunch around lunchtime, so I figured I could scoot out during a break in the weather and no harm done. That break never came, so I thought I would go out later in the day when things were more clear. And when that time came, I had eaten food and had a mimosa and a Mother’s Day shot, and the only things I wanted to do was take a picture with little man and the pugs, and sit on the couch. So I did.
And the world didn’t end. I didn’t spontaneously combust. It was ok to just sit and be still.
Rest Is Not The Enemy
In fact, rest and running are very much friends. Rest makes you stronger. It gives your muscles time to heal. I promise, taking time to rest will make you a better athlete, minimize injury, and allow you to reach more of your goals than pushing and overtraining. Grant yourself the permission to take those days off and to let your rest and running work together to make you more well-rounded.
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How do you give yourself permission to rest?
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
It’s so true- we really do need that rest in order to run well. Some weeks we may need more rest than others. I think in the beginning of all the stay at home stuff I was doing so much, its finally caught up with me a bit and now I’ve noticed I need some more rest/easy days. I’m trying to just go with what my body needs and remind myself that this isn’t the time to push too hard since there are no races to train for. I also want to be able to take advantage once the weather improves. I’m sure for you its hard to rest now that you can finally be active again. It’s great that you have the self-awareness to know when your body needs rest. I totally understand how it can be hard to give yourself “permission” to rest!
I think we all got caught up. we had so much time on our hands and needed ways to fill it. Now that things have settled a bit, it’s easier to see that we don’t have to do all the things all at once!
Beckett @ Birchwood Pie says
I believe in rest days so much that I take two of them every week. And I really think that the days that I don’t run do as much for my fitness as the days that I run. One thing that I used to do that wasn’t healthy was expecting myself to get 10,000 steps every day, which cheated my rest. Now I don’t monitor my steps at all and amazingly the world hasn’t ended.
Isn’t it funny how everything works out when we’re not paying attention? My Garmin took a sabbatical a few months back and even though I couldn’t track my steps it was all ok.
Rest is so important! I have learned over the years to take my rest days seriously. They are just as important to training.
You are absolutely correct.
I do run more some weeks and less others.
I try to walk on my rest days.
My rest days are usually 3 or 4 days each week.
It’s hard to rest but necessary.
Very true on both counts.
This is great advice for all runners. Rest, complete rest is important to let the body recover. I see some people talking about ‘active recovery’ which is kind of an oxymoron. Rest shouldn’t be considered a bad thing!
I do like the active recovery. It tricks me into thinking I’m resting, when I’m maybe not so much. But yes, it’s a trick. It was nice to take a break and not lose any fitness.
Thank you so much for this. I am not good at doing this at all and it has ended in an injury twice. Rest is so important – and, as Wendy said above, complete rest. Without a bad conscience! As you said quite rightly, rest and running are friends.
Catrina recently posted…Commit to be Fit!
I don’t think we’re alone, for sure.
It’s hard to shake the guilt.
Deborah Brooks says
This is something that I too have always struggled with. I have learned over time that I do need a complete rest day once a week. And yet, I often feel guilty for taking it. It’s is really a disordered way of thinking.
It was nice to know that nothing happened and that I didn’t lose any momentum. That’s a big fear I have right now and it’s tough to mentally work through it.
Sandra Laflamme says
Rest is such an important part of training one that can easily be overlooked. With social media it seems like there is pressure to always be moving. But rest and recovery helps prevent injury and will help you to be a faster runner.
So true. It’s hard for me to sit still and not do much. I’ve had to learn over the last six months, but it’s not my favorite thing.
This is something I think most runners have to learn the hard way. Most of us are pretty driven to improve or at least (in my case) maintain fitness as we get older. Rest is so important. We wind up thinking “just a walk, just a little yoga, just a swim” and pretty soon a rest day is not a rest day at all. Great post!
Yup. That’s the rabbit hole I go down. It’s a work in progress, of course.
Kimberly Hatting says
Yes, rest is a good thing. We all know our bodies best, and we all need different amounts of rest based on our fitness level and/or intensity of workouts. I’ve learned that my body recovers best when not sitting idle….the dog still needs walking, after all, and my “desk” job doesn’t allow me to stay at my desk all day LOL
I love the idea of walking as rest and recovery! I wish it didn’t take so much out of me, but it is what it is, I guess. It will get better.
De BOLTON says
I always stress the importance of rest to my clients. Its very powerful in the fitness but often overlooked and underestimated. Some times you have to slow down to speed up. Great suggestions.
It’s so important, but so hard to work it in!
I hear you. I know that it’s one thing to know how important rest is and another thing to take our own advice. You’ve been doing great in your recovery and I understand how hard it is mentally to sit back and just let your body rest.
It’s one of my big challenges. I’m not doing terribly at it, but it’s really tough to get in that headspace.
Yes! Yes! Yes! I recently completed a 40 day run streak with minimum of 4km allowed per day. One of the lessons that I will share soon from this experience is exactly what you’ve said here. The importance of rest! I got through the 40 days, but I don’t think it made me a better runner (not that that was my goal)… I was tired, I felt it in my legs and body in general. After the challenge I took a couple of days off and what a difference! So if the challenge taught me anything it’s the importance of rest days.
Oh, that exhaustion will get you for sure. It’s a hard way to learn a lesson, but I’m glad you did.