21 March 2008

The Principle of Rest

Today, I decided to take a complete rest day from training. My body is tired and I really need to get recovered because 1/2 IM training starts on Monday. It took me awhile this morning lying in bed, trying to drag myself out, to decide that I was going to rest today. A million thoughts went through my head, thoughts like, "I've skipped a couple of workouts already this week" or "I really need to this but I'm so tired" or "I can't get into this habit because I have to get my training done" etc. After listening to this inner monologue for awhile (like 30 minutes) I decided that I would take the day off and rest. I would skip my swim and long bike and rest. The reasons I gave myself for doing this were things like, "I need to be physically ready to start training on Monday and I don't want to be tired starting off" and "I will feel better if I rest" and "Working out when you're exhausted doesn't make you tough, it just makes you hurt more and it takes longer to recover." So, once I made my decision, I got up and got ready for work and have not let myself feel bad about this decision all day. However, this whole experience got me thinking about the principle of rest.

When I think about rest, I usually think about it in regards to physical rest from training or resting when I'm sick. However, I think that there are other types of rest that we probably should take or don't consider very often. I understand there are definitely roles in our lives that we can't take a rest from (ie. parents, spouse, etc); however, I think there are times that our life will be much more rewarding if we do take advantage of some rest.

Some of the definitions of rest include:

-the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep
-relief or freedom from anything that wearies, troubles or worries
-mental or spiritual calm; tranquility
-to refresh oneself (my personal favorite)

Today, I chose to rest from training. I have a purpose for doing that. Sometimes, I need to remind myself to rest from my troubles or doubts. Other times, I need to rest from my social obligations. Other times, I may need to rest from whatever roles I'm playing. I think sometimes its tricky to say no or to take a break, but that's probably when we need the rest the most.

In endurance sports, there is a concept called overtraining. Overtraining is usually defined as the state where an athlete has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. I am not overtrained and I recognize that. However, there's another principle of overtraining that I think fits in well here. In order to treat overtraining, the athlete must rest. The longer the athlete has been dealing with overtraining, the more rest required. The best way to prevent overtraining is to get adequate rest throughout the training process. So, my question is can we be overtrained in life? I would argue that we can. We all have our roles and obligations and needs and desires and I'm sure that everyone wishes there were more hours in the day. In order to combat this, we need to rest.

So, how does rest benefit us? We feel refreshed. We find joy in the activities that we love. We feel better about life. We have a more positive outlook. Our body heals and probably our mind as well. Rest is a good thing, a needed thing. I think that maybe it's hard to rest from anything because of all of the expectations that we place on ourselves, whether we have physical goals (like completing a 1/2 IM) or mental/spiritual/emotional goals. I need to remind myself of the benefits of rest more often and to take advantage of rest when it's necessary.

How do I rest? Sometimes it's as easy as taking a nap. Other times its going for a run, because running for me is the best way to clear my mind. Swimming comes in closely behind the running. Sometimes, it's taking a vacation. Other times it's doing nothing but sitting on the couch watching "Planet Earth" and marveling at the wonderful amazing creatures on this planet. The bottom line is that we all need to rest when we need it and we need to discover what provides us with the rest that we need to keep having wonderful enriching amazing lives.