I’m the type of person that is either all in or all out when it comes to exercise. When I’m all in, look out because I am unstoppable but sometimes my unstoppable ways lead me to make unwise choices. I am guilty of overtraining, skipping rest days and pushing myself too hard. It’s taken a lot of setback but life has showed me the error of my ways and I’m learning to rest. I’m still a work in progress and I have a lot still to learn but this is what I’ve learned so far:
My body needs at least one rest day a week and it took me a lot of injuries to actually figure this out. This is now non-negotiable in my training and you should make sure you’re fitting in at least one rest day too. Your body needs at least one day so that the muscles of your body can repair, strengthen and rebuild. The harder you push your body during the workouts the more important this rest day becomes. Your body needs time to replenish your energy stores and recharge. If your body isn’t getting a chance to rest and repair itself you’ll increase your chances of an injury.
I used to feel guilty when I took a rest day because I thought I would lose my motivation and have a hard time starting again. But what actually happens is I lose my motivation when I push myself too hard and don’t rest. I get burnt out and lose all my desire to workout when I push myself too hard. It actually pushes me to that other side of me, the all out of exercise side. Getting burnt out is the easiest way for me to derail any progress I’m making. Taking a rest day prevents that burnout and helps recharge me mentally for all my workouts.
If you’re feeling sick than it might be time to rest too. I think you can exercise through some sickness and a general rule of thumb is if you have a fever or any symptoms below the neck (like hacking cough, chest congestion or an upset stomach) you need to rest. Exercise puts strain on your body and if you’re fighting off an illness its just going to take you longer to recover from it. If you feel like you need to exercise just try and do something easier like walking.
It’s also important to listen to your body and take rest days if you’re feeling pain. Exercise will make you sore but that is different from pain. Pain is a small sign that your body gives you that you might be overdoing it. Pain is the whisper that often gets ignored. Pain can be a sign of an injury and it shouldn’t be ignored. Take it from me, I’ve ignored pain and ran through it and it just ended up hurting me more in the long run.
Learning to rest has been one of the hardest lesson for me to learn and if I’m honest, I’m no where near mastering it. I’m better than I once was but I still tend to ignore signs my body gives me and push through more than I should but I’m trying to get better. I still struggle with that guilt if I take an extra day or two of rest but I’m a few years ago I wouldn’t have rested at all. While it’s not perfect, it’s still progress for me.