We don’t like rest, do we? We think it’s weak. We think there must be something wrong with us if we need to rest. We think we should be able to work at maximum capacity all day every day. Even lots of athetles WANT to operate this way. Especially lots of athletes resist rest. We all do.
For YEARS, I beat myself up because there were some weeks I just didn’t feel like running. In fact, there have been months and years when I didn’t really want to run. I wanted to dance instead. I wanted to strength train. Or, I wanted to ride my bike and go hiking. Some days I don’t feel like strength training but there’s lots of other things I enjoy doing.
But we also don’t LOVE to “enjoy” ourselves when it comes to exercise. When it comes to exercise, we think: “no pain, no gain.” PUHLEEEZE. Of course it’s true that there are some days we are better off dragging our reluctant asses out of bed to do some movement that may sound like torture. And it is likely, on those days, we know -- even when we’re in our warm cozy bed – that when we DO get our asses up and moving, we WILL feel happy that we did so and better for the rest of the day. But there are other days, weeks, months and years when an activity that used to be our thing just isn’t our thing anymore. It no longer makes us happy. It no longer makes us feel more alive when we do it. It no longer lights some kind of fire in us. And that’s what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the fact that our bodies and our minds and our beings ALREADY KNOW about PERIODIZATION. They slow us down when we NEED to slow down and they STOP us when we NEED to stop and they give us clear cues for when they want more of something and less of something else. I’m talking about the fact that I don’t need to look back at what activities I’ve done or left undone and feel like I did a damn thing wrong. I did what I could. I did what I wanted to do. I did what my body was telling me to do. And I, usually, didn’t do the thing it told me not to do. And I promise you, those days when I DID do the thing my body didn’t want to do, THAT was a bad idea. I was not following my body’s naturally periodized program for me – and I suffered.
I’ve only just started personal training but it is amazing how many people are OBSESSED with these three thoughts:
- I must hate a workout and feel pain in a workout to be getting something out of it.
- I must go all out all of the time.
- I must be doing it wrong.
I’ve already told you how I feel about the first thought. Sure, I love to get to the point in a workout where I want to gouge out the eyes of my instructor or trainer for making me work so hard but ultimately… those are the trainers I end up loving the most. So, I get wanting to FEEL the workout. But… this brings me to the second thought… it is neither possible, nor healthy, nor safe to go as hard as you can every single workout, every single day. Our bodies REQUIRE rest.
IN FACT, CHEW ON THIS: It is not EVEN in the ACT of working out/ tearing muscle/ getting our distance PRs that we are doing our body ANY good AT ALL. It is not until we REST that our bodies can rebuild, re-assess, and integrate everything it has just gone through into our system in order to become a more efficient, happier, healthier machine. Our bodies REQUIRE the rest to USE the work.
This, OF COURSE, does not mean that sitting on our asses all day long every day is the best thing we can do. No. Our bodies can’t become (or even stay) strong, efficient, capable of doing everything we need to do all day every day by doing nothing but REST. We need the work. We need the rest. We need BOTH.
Which brings me back to this: It is very likely that you are – and have always been – going through periods, long or short, of work and rest. And when you are resting, it is likely that SOMETIMES you like to strength train and SOMETIMES you like to ride a bike and SOMETIMES you like to swim and SOMETIMES you like to take a yin yoga class, etc… etc… etc…. So, let me suggest something STRONGLY to you: You are not doing it wrong.
You have never done it wrong. You’ve done what you needed, wanted, were capable of doing at the time. Give yourself a HUGE break. STOP telling yourself that working out means pain or that physical fitness means you must look a certain way or that you must never rest. Give yourself, your body, the activity that it wants WHEN it wants it. Period. Periodize. Naturally. Just like you probably always have.
Keep working & resting, with love, Teamies!