In any sport, rest is just as important as an intense day at the gym, track, water, or where ever your sport takes you. Previous to working with RunCanvas Coaching, I would lace up my shoes and run every day in an all-out effort to beat the clock. Days when I couldn’t run, whether it be circumstances within our outside of my control, I would beat myself up and would sulk around feeling guilty for not running.
Where did it get me?
Intense training, every day, with no scheduled breaks, lead me to burnout. Yes, I was running triple digits each month, but my legs complained of soreness every time I’d look at my running shoes. I would go to bed exhausted, yet could never get comfortable enough to sleep more than an hour or so without waking up and tossing and turning. My shins hurt constantly and I started to look at running differently. How could something I enjoy cause me so much grief? After running the Hershey Half Marathon in October of 2018, I decided to take a break from running, I needed a way to mentally disconnect from running which was starting to feel like “work”.
What did I learn?
In the months following the Hershey Half, I gained some weight, I still ran every-so-often, but mostly just to clear my head, my running dropped from 100+ miles a month to about 15-20 miles a month for December and January. I learned in that time, that it was okay to not get a run in, and my body healed a lot faster when I actually took the time to rest. My shin pain went away, and I found myself looking forward to getting outside. I completed the Frozen Snot in January and Squirrely Tail in February and it was those two races that reminded me why I loved running so much.
But I blurred the lines again once the weather got nicer and started on a downward slope of over-training. My pace had suffered greatly from taking time off, going from an average of 8:45 min/mile to 9:45 min/mile (even 10:00 min/mile at times) and I was back to forcing a run every day to hit those high weekly miles.
Trainer or No Trainer?
I posted earlier [linked here] on whether or not there was a benefit to hiring a personal trainer (run coach) and decided to take the chance when the opportunity arrived. I was excited to get started and was eager to see my upcoming training schedule. Day 1 was a rest day. I immediately felt that apprehension growing inside me. “Day 1, Rest Day, but I’m supposed to be training,” I told myself.
I decided right then and there, I had to change my mindset. After all, how’d not resting work out for me? So, in an effort to not sabotage myself, I made the decision that I would follow everything the plan called for, and if it said rest, then I would rest.
I can say without a doubt those rest days have helped in ways I wouldn’t have imaged. I’m no longer sore between scheduled runs, and when I see “rest” on the calendar, I make sure to give my body a chance to recover, so that way I’m better prepared for the scheduled runs ahead.
Physical benefits aside, I’ve found mentally, those rest days allow my brain to shut off the guilt associated with not running, I knowing it’s all part of the plan. That mental break and disconnect allow me to enjoy running in ways I wouldn’t have imaged. I look forward to my training schedule and approach each run with excitement – hills, speed work, tempo? Let’s do this!
Yesterday I ran 7 miles at a slow and steady pace, and for the first time in years, around mile 5, I experienced that highly sought after runner’s high. Everything was right in the world. My legs flowed effortlessly, my breathing was calm and rhythmic, I felt for the first time in ages: in tune with my body and my surroundings.
So, whatever sport you may be in if you find yourself upset with your performance and just not enjoying your passion, it’s time for a little rest. It’s great to have passion, but I think “blood, sweat, and tears” doesn’t need to be the components of every exercise or training session.
If you aren’t having fun and aren’t enjoying the process, stop and ask yourself why you’re in it in the first place.