I’ll let you in on yet another secret about me: I am really, really bad at taking a rest day from exercise.
I cherish my workout or running days. It’s time to myself with music pumping in my ears. The workouts and runs shed a layer of stress like nobody’s business, yet also make me feel like I can kick some a$$. It’s awesome. But I’ve been overdoing it lately, and in the back of my mind, I knew it, and had to change it up.
I was recently put in my place by my friend and coach (even coaches need their own coaches!) Jenna Damron of Devoted Fitness Coaching, who very diplomatically and gently told me that my 6 days per week workout routine (with each workout between 60-90 minutes) was crazytown, and not doing me any favors. And you know what? She was 100 percent right.
The timing of this advice was perfect because with the kids out of school for the summer, my schedule had changed, making going to the gym a lot trickier. So, I took a deep breath, heeded Jenna’s advice, and added in an extra rest day. True rest. Not the old Rachel type rest day, which was the a-run-day-is-a-rest-day-right? A true rest day, with no hard exercise on the schedule.
I’m not going to lie: I was little antsy on that first extra rest day. I felt like I had a bottle of tension inside that needed to get let out.
But then I just decided to relax into it. Use the extra time in the morning for other things, and just have faith that the extra rest would help me. I’ve also been suffering from plantar fasciitis in my right foot, which is really painful and just generally annoying. It was my body’s way of telling me to slow down.
So here’s the amazing part. My first time back in the gym after the extra rest day was one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while. I felt like a lifting machine. Nothing felt out of reach, so I pushed myself to add some weight to some of my big lifts, and they actually went well. BOOM! It was exactly what I needed.
The even better part? The same thing happened later that week when I was back in the gym again. Another solid workout. Wow, did that feel good.
Taking a rest day seriously was a hard lesson for me to learn—nothing like learning this lesson at 43, when I should know better—as I come from a long line of “some is good, more is better” type people.
As you can surmise, the moral of the story here is to not blow off your rest days. Let those muscles rest. Breathe. Relax. Lower that cortisol. Enjoy that extra sleep (also VERY important!) on your rest day.
I promise you, you’re not being a slacker. Rest does a body good.
Just your average stopwatch-toting suburban mom, looking to make some locals sweat and curse my name.