One of the first rules I teach my clients, besides “Eat enough so you’re not flopping around on the ground after one of my classes” and “No, you really can’t out train a bad diet” is “Slow your roll— you gotta rest.”
He doesn’t realize this, but my dad actually taught me this rule long before I ever had any notions about being a trainer. He would go on really long bike rides once a week, on his day off. He’d come home, dripping with sweat, and completely spent. And after eating, he would crash into a hibernating sort of sleep until his body told him it was ready to rejoin the world, or something like a phone awakened him. He was doing exactly what his body needed. The rest of the week, he would go on short rides, with rest between them. He knew how good it felt to work really hard, but also that the body’s recovery time was as important as the ride time.
Let me clear up a misunderstanding. Your body is not “built in the gym”. When you’re lifting or doing body weight exercises or plyometrics, you’re creating small tears in your muscles. That’s a good thing, because that’s what enables your muscles to grow stronger. But it’s only through rest and proper nutrition (uhem…get a meal plan!) that your body is able to do that amazing work.
If you’re a beginner who has started regularly training with some Intensity , a good rule of thumb is to start with training 4-5 days a week, with two full days off. This actually isn’t a bad rule of thumb for most people, but I have trained as many as 6 days a week, when my body was up for it. To be clear, I didn’t go all in all those days. I’ve also done two a day workouts for periods of time, but there again I was varying my routines. These days, since I’ve got some body stuff that just won’t go away, I practice what I preach, and train 3-4 days. I’ve now been doing this long enough to understand that giving my body what it needs is much more important than pushing, pushing, pushing.
If you’re not resting properly, not only are you not going to see results (since your body is built at rest!), but you may actually being doing harm to your body. First of all, pushing too hard too often is a great way to keep your cortisol elevated, which as I might have mentioned in earlier posts, is a great way to not be able to lose weight. Pushing too hard too often without proper rest leads to overtraining, which has a whole host of bad effects.
Sometimes your body needs more rest than other times. When it comes to my health and that of my clients, I err on the side of caution. But sometimes, it’s hard for them… and for me. I ‘ve hung onto this quote for years, and drag it out when I need a reminder..
For some messed-up reason, our athletic egos still feel that we only get faster as we pedal harder, run quicker and swim stronger. It’s athlete psychology—all of our confidence is built around the times that we actually destroy our bodies. But it’s only the rest afterward that makes our bodies stronger. Because of this psychological dichotomy, when and how long to rest is the hardest decision to make as an athlete. It takes a level of confidence above even the level necessary to push your body to the limit. You don’t get the endorphin release, the feeling of accomplishment, and the external and internal praise and satisfaction. All you get are feelings of losing your edge, getting out of shape and nervous anticipation.So the next time you need to rest, whether it be for a mid-season break, post-big race, or just an easy day or two between training blocks, remember that it takes confidence to rest. Remember that it is just insecurity and a lack of endorphin release that makes you feel like you’re getting out of shape. Know that when you decide to rest, you’re making the right call—the better, smarter decision. Feel good and confident about it. You’ve done yourself a favor—you have literally just made yourself a better athlete.
Jesse Thomas, Professional Triathlete & CEO of Picky Bars, originally read on Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes on Facebook
Don’t be afraid to listen to your body (or your trainer when he/she says back off). Sometimes that means a day or two, sometimes that means a week or more. Sometimes it means changing your routine or switching temporarily to something a little more gentle.
In tomorrow’s post:
Not paying attention to your fluid intake? It matters a lot, and even affects your ability to lose weight!