Give it a Rest!
We all know THOSE people. And if we don’t know them personally, we’ve seen them on social media. The “#NoDaysOff” people. The people who are constantly grinding and constantly showing us that they are always grinding. As much as I wish I could be one of those elusive super-humans who lift three times their body weight everyday, I’ve accepted that I am most definitely not one of these people, nor should an elite long distance runner be one of those people.
I get asked these types of questions all the time: “Do you run EVERYDAY?!” and “Have you ever taken a day off?” and “When was the last time you took a day off?” The popular paradigm is that elite athletes never take a day off. Well I am here to say that we do, and you should too.
After the Peachtree 10k, I knew it was about that time. Time to take a mental and physical break from all the hard work. The race turned out subpar: my mind and body were both weary. This year was the first time I’ve trained for distances up to a half marathon, and my body was feeling it. I came down with a nasty virus the week of the race, and I couldn’t run for a couple of days. I was sick for 8 days straight, and I know now that it was my body telling me to cut it some slack. Although my body was fighting against me, my mind was all-in until I found myself settling and slowly becoming stale during the race. Despite the tired state I was in physically during the race, I know that I could have pushed myself better mentally. (Yet, this could be an example of my mind being tired of the grind as well). Overall, it was a disappointing end-of-the-season race, but the season itself was not. I’ve learned so much from moving up in distance, but still have so much left to discover.
If running has taught me anything it’s that rest is almost as important as putting in the work itself. If you don’t give your body time to heal, then you’re just burning the candle at both ends. I’m not super knowledgeable about the inner workings of the body, but I know that working out creates micro tears in your muscles, and those tears need time to recover in order to make you stronger. A weird analogy I like to think about is the formation of the beneficial calluses on a runner’s foot. In order for that tough skin to form, the blisters had to heal. I for sure don’t want my body to be one big blister forever. Resting is just part of the grind.
Although I don’t physically run every day of the year, I do, in a sense, take “no days off.” Running is a part of my daily life no matter what. Whether that means planning a race, doing supplementary yoga, or simply resting, it all benefits my passion just the same. It’s ok to take a break, and it most definitely doesn’t mean you’re not a badass.