During the past month and a half we have tried to share with you some of the changes that we have been working on in our own lives. These are not resolutions, but rather areas of our life we wanted to make lasting change in such as meal prep, cleaner living, etc. One area of my “fitness life” I have really struggled with has been the concept of rest days. More is better, right? I love working out. I feel better when I sweat, both physically and emotionally. In my mind I know that rest is as important as the actual work you put in, but implementing it was another story.
Missy and I were talking recently and realized that of the girls we work out with that haven’t battled injuries, they share one thing in common. They “only” work out 4-5 days a week. When they are at the gym they work hard and push themselves to their limit, but they also rest and recover.
This year, one of my goals was to actually plan rest days. Yes, days plural. I have decided that when my schedule permits I will take Thursday and Sunday off (I may juggle this if I’m busy on a “normal” workout day.). I feel like planning these days rather than taking them spontaneously still gives me the “control” of my workout schedule I crave. I have implemented this schedule for a little over a month now and have noticed a few things.
I am actually feeling rested on Monday morning run day. While my speed is still not where I would like it, the last two Mondays have been my fastest miles in months. Last Saturday our “homework” workout required 3 mile repeats. I actually felt fresh and surprised myself at the pace I was able to hold. Like seriously, it has probably been six months or more since I have run at these paces. There have been other setbacks and marathon training mixed in so I will not give rest all the credit, but it certainly has contributed.
I don’t go into almost every workout sore from the last. This has been one factor that I believe has helped me to lift some weights I haven’t lifted in several months. I managed a clean and jerk PR a couple weeks ago and matched my snatch PR (that was set a long time ago). I got so used to feeling physically tired all the time, I honestly had forgotten what it felt like to workout and feel good the next day.
As a side note, I am not supplementing at all right now. I take a multivitamin and have a protein shake most days, but most of my recovery is “all natural” right now – diet and rest. In the past when I have tried to cut out recovery supplements while keeping my work load the same, I was SORE.
Probably most exciting to me is that I have been sleeping better. You would think that a hard workout would make you sleep like a baby. But sometimes this wasn’t the case for me. There were times after double digit runs I would be fighting insomnia until 2 or 3 a.m. While I am not ready to say I have no insomnia issues, I can honestly say I have had no real issues for a month. Is it connected? Not sure, but something is working and that has been one fairly major change I have made in the past month.
It took a full month, but I am starting to mentally get used to my rest days as well. At first I felt restless. I missed working out and battled guilt for “skipping.” Now I finally have my brain wrapped around the idea that it’s ok to enjoy my days off. My Thursday off day allows me to get more work done which has the nice side effect of making me less stressed out. My Sunday off day gives me an entire “free day” to do other things.
Do you work rest days into your schedule? Do you enjoy rest days or feel guilty taking them?