Since adding a third day of strength training to my workout schedule, I have been trying to find some balance. Although it is possible for me to train 7 xweek without a rest day, after training 15 days straight I realized it is not a good idea. One of the hardest things for me to do does not involve lifting heavy things or running a long distance at a certain pace, it is finding balance: balance at work, at home, and at the gym.
It is too easy for me to work longer hours, take on more, try to fit it all in-especially if I have a workpout plan or a schedule. Whether it is meeting deadlines, achieving a weekly mileage goal, or getting to Yoga class when it is the 3rd workout in less than 12 hours, if it does more to break down my body both physically and emotionally, then it might be time to reassess my schedule.
One thing I have learned in the last 4 months is that it is important to know your limits, and to listen to your body. The part of your brain that makes choices based on emotions does not always choose what is best. I know what works for me- a complete rest day.
A rest day not only allows my body to recover, but it allows my body to adapt to the week’s training. A rest day also allows my brain to recover and reset. Rest does not have to mean sitting around all day doing nothing-although sometimes naps are a good thing! A rest day simply means taking a day to eat well, pause, breathe, and stay away from the gym, treadmill, and any other type of equipment, including running shoes and GPS watch. A rest day is the perfect time to get some mobility (stretching) work in to get ready for the next week.
I plan my rest day. If I don’t plan it into my schedule, it is too easy for me to not follow through. For me it is harder to NOT go to the gym or workout than it is to get there. And I have to treat it the same way.
A rest day allows me to get to the food store and stock up on my “go-to” foods for the week:
- Fat free Fage Greek yogurt
- Cage free organic eggs
- Pure Protein powder
- Unsweetened Almond milk
- Lara Bars and Power Bars
- Plenty of berries, apples, bananas and avocado
- Bob’s Red Mill oats
- Plenty of greens-kale, swiss chard, baby spinach, beets
and coffee!! (I don’t stock up on protein such as fish and chicken, but make my husband bring it home daily.)
A rest day allows me time to unwind, think and reflect on the week:
- Did I get enough sleep?
- How did I eat?
- How do my muscles and joints feel?
- What part of my schedule worked best?
- What needs to be adjusted?
There are only so many hours in a week, and how you choose to spend them makes a difference in how you feel and function each day. Unexpected crises at work and home cause stress and your body treats all stress the same whether it is stress from lifting heavy things and running fast or far, or stress from an unexpected deadline, nail in your tire, or technology glitch. Both your body and mind need time to recover from the stress. Getting 8 hours of sleep a night, eating enough quality calories, and taking a day off is a great way to make sure the hard work you put in at the gym and on the road pay off in a positive way.