Happy Monday. With the gluttony and lethargy of Thanksgiving behind us, most of us will view today as a fresh start on our training programs and eating plans. I however am taking today as a rest day, and tomorrow too for that matter. Actually, tomorrow will round out an entire week of rest and active recovery for me.
In spite of everything I know about training and recovery, years of education and almost 3 decades as a competitive athlete- I never take more than one or two days off. When I say never, I mean years and years of religious overtraining.
You may ask how is it possible that I do something to myself that I would never tolerate with a client of mine? How is it that I could know better and fully believe that I would feel better and perform better with adequate rest yet lack the ability to do so?
For me it comes down to 3 things:
1. Structure and Habitual Behavior – my training is the focal point of my day. I am fortunate enough to have the ability to design my schedule around it. I eat, sleep, work, and socialize around my training schedule. Training in essence is my anchor. This habitual behavior is all that I have known for nearly 30 years!
2. Personal Identity - I define myself largely as an extremely capable athlete with extraordinary physical capabilities that come from years of relentless hard work and a bit of good genetics.
3. Fear – I am afraid of not working out. I have an irrational fear of losing my ability. I know that is nonsense but what is fear? Fears or phobias are often irrational thoughts.
Now that I have identified the obstacles, what am I going to do about them?
1. Structure and Habitual Behavior – I chose to replace training with therapeutic, low intensity recovery work for a week. I still set aside the same amount of time I would to train but instead I walked, stretched, and did several soft tissue recovery treatments including active release therapy, massage, and acupuncture. This allowed me to feel productive and kept my outlook positive.
2. Personal Identity – This identity of Athlete limits me. It is narrow minded and inhibits potential. Athlete is one of the many hats I wear and by no means is the most important one. I spent some time writing down all of the roles that I encompass – sister, daughter, girlfriend, friend, mentor, coach, and educator. I then challenged myself to improve all of these roles and relationships by thinking of one thing I could do for each to make it better. All of these things make up me and the sum is greater than any of it’s parts.
3. Fear – Fear must be conquered in baby steps. Instead of thinking of it as a whole week off, I take it one day at a time. Each day is a mini accomplishment. Most importantly, I have loved ones holding my hand. I have a support structure of people that care about me and are looking out for my best interests and long term health. I made a pact with these people that I will take a full week off. If I feel like I am about to cave they are a mere phone call away. My promise to them trumps my fear!
This week off has been apositive experience. It has given me PERSPECTIVE. I have learned, I have grown. I have admitted and come to terms with a weakness. I am stronger.