My normal rest day in this training schedule are on Sunday. But, today, my training schedule gave me another rest day. That’s right: TWO rest days in one week instead of the usual one! And for that, let us give thanks and praise!
Rest days are the best and hardest part of a runner’s schedule. It’s the one day of the week (pets willing) where I can sleep late. The running shoes can stay in the closet, and I don’t have to choose between weights, swimming, yoga, etc. as my cross-training session. Most weeks, I meet rest days with jubilation.
So why are rest days hard? Because we all hit points in our running lives where we’re tempted by more. One more mile. One more weight session. One more trip to the pool. It’s so unbelievably easy to think, “what I’m doing now is great, but working one more day is always better, right?” And when there’s a big goal on the line (*cough* new personal record *cough*), that little voice whispering “one more workout” may as well be screaming through a megaphone.
In that moment where that voice screams through the megaphone, the best thing I can do is resist and rest. Because sometimes the last thing I need is more work. Because that extra workout doesn’t always help me get to my goal faster. Because, more often than I care to admit, doing more ends up giving me less than what I’d hoped and makes the work ahead that much harder. (Here’s a great article from Runner’s World that summarizes the benefits of rest days.)
And what’s true of running is—often—true of the rest of life (well, my life, anyway). How often do I find myself wanting to add one more item to the check list? One more challenge to take on? And for what? How easy is it for me to give in to the notion that if I just dig in and keep going without resting that everything will work itself out and I’ll have what I need? And how often does that approach leave me feeling exhausted, lacking, and struggling to function? The answer is “more times than I care to admit.” But, when I do take that time to scale back and rest, I come back feeling like I could conquer the world.
I get that we live in a culture (especially in America) that values being busy and all things “more.” I get that so much of our daily lives screams “more is better” at us through a megaphone from sunrise to sunset. And yet, I’m calling for all of us (myself included) to just rest every now and then. If you’re a runner, take the rest day; put down the running shoes and pick up a book. If you’re not a runner, but you’re just exhausted with your life in general, take the time to rest, too; step away from the to-do list and find something fun to do.
Let’s stop believing the lie that “more” always works. Let’s rest every now and then.