What does it mean to rest? You know, when the little rocking chair picture appears on your Final Surge schedule. The rocking chair image is telling really. Are you actually resting on your rest day like you’re supposed to, and do you even know what “rest day” should entail? For me, rest days mean I don’t run, and that’s basically it. I also discovered (I’m a slow learner if you haven’t picked up on that by now) that after weeks and weeks of feeling tired and run down, I wasn’t exactly getting any rest in the true sense of the word on my rest day.
My rest day falls on a Sunday and here’s how my typical Sunday goes: 90-minute power yoga class in the morning, followed by a snowshoe with my dogs (because the puppy is crazy hyper and must get some form of exercise). This is then followed by me being on my feet and on the move the entire day tending to all the adulting activities that do not get done during the week like cleaning, laundry, errands, meal preparation, barn chores, garden chores (if it’s summer), snow shoveling (if it’s winter), etc. I generally don’t get off my feet and sit down until around 7-8pm at night. So, “rest” is a bit of a stretch. I’m exhausted after all of this.
I’d like to tell you since I’ve had this epiphany that I am actually resting, that (since its my “rest”day while I’m writing this) I’m currently rocking a way in a rocking chair, flipping through back issues of Trail Runner and taking it easy. But if I’m being honest, before I started typing this article, I was googling hikes to take my dogs on (cue the writhing, whining puppy at my feet while I type this). And I have a whole host of adulting activities to complete after that. So, when you have a finite amount of time a full-time job and home responsibilities, how does one achieve the necessary rest that our bodies, minds, and souls desperately need? This is not a rhetorical question by-the-way, anyone figure this out then hit me up.
Clearly, you get the idea that I do not have this one figured out. But, since these articles are meant to impart some sort of running knowledge, then I turned to the experts (ahh the magic of Google, I remember growing up before the internet was a thing and we got our knowledge from encyclopedias, but I digress…). So, this is a case of do as I suggest and not as a I do.
According to an article, published by Trail Runner Magazine in June 2016, written by David Roche, rest is imperative. The stress from running breaks down our bodies and if we want to avoid injury we must find time for adequate rest. “Adequate rest and recovery allows the body to adapt to minor breakdown to come back stronger than before—that’s what leads to fitness gains” says Roche. Roche does give me a little hope saying that we shouldn’t “vegetate like a human eggplant” but avoiding activities that involve forceful impact is best.
Dale Guilford writes in his article, “What to Do on Rest and Recovery Days” published on Active.com, “On rest and recovery days it is important to avoid doing the worst thing you can do for your body… nothing.” I think I have hope. He goes on to say that “Rest is a variable to apply in response to the feedback your body gives—more, or less, but always some.”
Both Roche and Guilford discuss the idea of active rest which involves light activities to keep the body moving but emphasizes that these activities should not add stress or impact to the body but instead compliment the hard training we do by enhancing recovery and thus making us stronger, faster, better.
So, what have I learned? Maybe I’m not so bad after all, but my rest days could use a few adjustments. Maybe a few more rest breaks built in to the busyness and listen to my body a smidge more. Of course, there’s always the task of figuring out work/life balance in order to do all of that, but that’s a whole another article.
By: Brie Staker
Brie has been running for over 26 years. Since joining Team Rugged, she has finished 2nd female in a marathon and 3rd in her age group at a trail 50K. She lives in northern Idaho on a mini-ranch with her husband and two dogs.