Want Results? Do Less... and Get More!
"Anna, you need to take a rest day." Can I get an AMEN!?! I love it when trainers say these words! But believe it or not... it's a phrase a lot of hard core athletes need to hear. It was certainly something I needed to be reminded of when I was training for the Boston and New York City marathons. I was burning myself out. You see... I was under the impression that hard work always pays off in life... and the faster and tougher I worked out... the faster and tougher I would be. But the truth of the matter is... working smarter (not harder) pretty much always pays off in life. And the smarter way to train is mixing adequate rest into our routines to allow our bodies to recover.
A rest day doesn't mean we have to sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day- I mean we can if we want- we all deserve a pajama day every once in a while. But my point... is that the rest day/s can still be a day we leisurely ride our bike around the neighborhood or take the dog on a long, slow and steady walk. But we don't need to beat our bodies up everyday to improve our fitness. In fact, if we want to develop the best results... we better not!
Whether we train for cardio or strength... if we are doing so... at a pretty decent clip... we are essentially tearing down our muscles. When I was training for Boston and NYC... I was waking up at 3am to host a TV weekend morning show and trying to do long runs afterward. Most training plans recommend the long run to take place on the weekend which is conducive for running in groups. But that was a losing combo for me. So not only taking rest days but timing my long runs to my days off from work were key. Our bodies will never get a chance to build back stronger if we are constantly tearing them down.
I asked New York Sports Club master trainer, Edem Tsakpoe about why it's important to give ourselves a break from exercise. "Rest is a key factor in seeing fitness results because it’s during sufficient and efficient rest that lean muscle grows, tissue damage from exertion is repaired and the brain and the rest of the nervous system is primed for the intensity needed to get the most out of training. Without sufficient rest, lean muscle does not have sufficient time and opportunity to grow, overuse and overtaining injuries are more likely to occur and muscle soreness and fatigue may prevent the individual from working out intensely and/or with the proper form needed."
I have also found that I enjoy my workouts more when I am feeling fresh both physically and mentally. Folks who aren't interested in exercising or don't like exercising often ask me how I stay so consistent. And I guess the best answer is that I LOVE it! Exercise time is my sacred time of the day. And taking one day (sometimes two) off a week keeps me looking forward to training... rather than viewing it as a chore.