In any training program that I do, whether it’s for a tri, marathon or just my regular gym routine the hardest day for me is the rest day. I really struggle on those days and more often than not, I end up negating the rest period by “lightly” training. I think “It’s just a 30 minute run, or a 45 minute bike ride, I’m not breaking a huge sweat by lifting these weights, I mean, how important is it to rest?”
Well, it’s important. So important that even the Lord rested after creating the world. He spoke everything into existence, He breathed out His breath, filled mans lungs with air, and then He rested, He took time to inhale. Why then, do I feel that I don’t need to rest?
I remember the first marathon I ran. I stuck to my training plan and did not deviate from it, if it was a rest day, I rested, if it was a long run I made sure I had my Gu Gels. I was new to the whole racing world and I wanted to make sure I was doing things right.
By the time I ran my third marathon I felt like I knew more than my training manuals and running club coaches that I listened to on early Saturday, morning runs. Oh, don’t think I was some elite athlete. I wasn’t part of a running club…. I just showed up at the LSU campus at 4:30 AM on Saturdays and did my stretches and warm ups at distance, from the Baton Rouge Wolf Pack (yes, that was their name), making sure I was close enough to hear all the advice but far enough away to not look like I was creeping on them. I also didn’t want to get kidnapped (a valid concern, in my mind, not anyone else’s) so I made sure I paced myself with them until the sun came up. I listened to them talking about how they trained, what they ate and how “tomorrow, I’m not doing anything except resting.” To which I would roll my eyes and think “And that’s why I’m going to beat you to the finish line.”
You see, I wanted to run faster and finish stronger so I ended up cutting out rest days in order to do more speed work. Not a good idea. I wore myself down. I actually came home from a long run about three weeks before my third marathon and told my husband “I hate this so much. I don’t even want to do this anymore. I’m just going to drop down to a half-marathon.” Which I did, and I finished, but it took me about six months before I even wanted to lace up my running shoes again.
I burned myself out. If I had rested, recovered, the way I was supposed to, I don’t doubt I would have set a PR. But, my overachiever self couldn’t find the importance in the rest.
REST. It truly is one of the most important things in our lives. Physically we need to rest to prevent injury to ourselves and to keep from getting sick. Mentally we need rest to prevent injury to others and to keep from getting sick. Rest heals us, it revitalizes us, restores us. I KNOW this, and yet I will find myself in the spiral of busy and hurried and wiped out, to the point that I don’t even want to be around myself.
Yes, there are times in life where one thing leads to another and we are going full tilt in circumstances that we can’t control, I get that, I really do. However, those are just seasons and they do not last forever. What happens when the busy season ends? Well, for me, I’m guilty of filling the rest and down time with more ”busy”. I get in my head that if I’m not running like crazy or fully engaged in doing something then I’m not productive. I will mistake busyness for productivity and that’s not healthy. I’m always telling our kids especially, our 11-year-old, “Just be still, you don’t have to constantly be moving.”
Be still. That’s what I need to do. I need to rest. As a Christian I have no problem with the 10 Commandments and keeping them, except for one. The Sabbath, the day of rest. I wonder, how a day of not going, doing, giving, or working can be productive? Then I am reminded that strength is renewed in rest, that I can’t constantly be breathing out and not breath in and that helping to lead our family and others on empty will get me absolutely nowhere. I’m not Jesus. And guess what? Even He rested.
What does a “rest” look like?” Sometimes for me it’s a day where I don’t leave my house and all I do is cook or bake (I find this restful) or I get up early to go for a run, completely unplugged from technology, or Toby and I sneak away for coffee or a movie. Sometimes it’s telling the kids ‘No. No one is coming over, no one is spending the night and no, we are not going anywhere or doing anything.” Rest is a time where we refuel and re-energize in the ways that work for us. Our rest, my rest will probably be different from yours. That’s okay. As long as we are resting, physically and mentally our strength will be renewed and we can lead from a place of abundance. I’m learning to take a cue from my heavenly Father. I’m resting and inhaling so I can exhale when it’s needed.
How do you rest?