Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bulldogs Need Their Rest Too

WARNING: This post is going to be about REST and could potentially be VERY LONG. :) Keep scrolling if you are against both. I won't hold it against you. :)
I have been called a "bulldog" at various times in my life. I've always taken it as a compliment, even when it was meant as an insult. It's true though. Once I decide to do something, I finish it or die trying. I don't quit. It's just not in me to quit. Once I decide on a goal, I focus and put all of my energy into accomplishing what I have set out to do. Whether I am digging trenches in my yard to put in my own sprinkler system, finishing up my degrees in college, training for a marathon or preparing for a Spartan Beast, I will give it 100% every time.

That said, being a "bulldog" can often lead to not having much balance, and over the course of my life I have struggled to find that "perfect balance" between "living life" and "accomplishing my goals." Basically, I don't have much down time, as I am usually focused on accomplishing the "next goal." Granted, there is nothing wrong with having goals and setting reasonable timelines to accomplish them, but so often those of us that train and race for different events can often become so consumed with our training, that we forget that at some point our bodies need to rest. Sure, I sleep at night and get my 6, 7 or 8 hours (if I'm lucky) of sleep. But as runners, it is so hard for us to just STOP and take a day off. An ENTIRE DAY. Maybe even two days. God forbid!! The guilt sets in. You begin to feel "flabby." You think your body might "forget" the training you've done and you'll have to start all over etc. Worse yet, is the day you're taking a DAY OFF and you happen to drive by someone who is running. You can't take it! You want to go home, change and go run. Tell me it isn't so.
I've been in this situation more times than I can count and despite learning something from each of the times that I was finally "forced" to rest, I still play the little mind games with myself. "Rest is bad." "Nooo, rest is GOOD." And I bet if you're like me (and I’m guessing that a good majority of you are), your body is finally the one that says: STOP! because it simply cannot go on any longer; because it refuses to go on and perform the way you want it to. So your runs begin to “suck” and yet you push on, determined to run/train every day. And then the aches set in, or your runs aren’t as enjoyable or worse yet, you get injured.

Why is it so hard for us to REST? Because as RUNNERS we are determined individuals. We persevere.  We are BULLDOGS. Once we establish that goal in our mind we set forth to accomplish it no matter what.  Sometimes at the cost of our own bodies. Or our sanity.
Lately I’ve been training and racing like crazy amidst a VERY busy work schedule and home life, and yet I just keep pushing myself. Racking up the miles, jotting down my times and tracking the upcoming races. I’ve been feeling tired and my body has been nudging me to rest and yet I have quietly whispered: “Just a few more days and I’ll take a day or two off.” And I keep going until finally my body says: ENOUGH! and I am forced to take a rest day or two because my body is simply DONE. It’s not a very difficult concept to understand but I know there are many of us who struggle with taking days off. If you have reached that level in your training where you no longer struggle with this, my hat is off to you. However, I would venture to guess that there are many of you out there who were “forced” to take a rest day this week when you would have rather not and you beat yourself up about it. You felt like a “failure.”

Ha! First, you’re not a failure, and secondly, you’re not alone. We condemn ourselves despite all the miles we log and the hours we train because there is always one more hill to conquer, one more road to pound, one more trail to discover. Why must we be so hard on ourselves? The determination and the perseverance often outweigh the "logic" behind a good 'ol rest day and so we push on. Another mile. Another hill. Just one more training run.

I’ll end with this. My body said enough about four days ago and yet I kept at it and even went out and ran 13 miles. I finished, but it wasn’t a very strong run. I struggled the entire time. I had neglected once again to listen to my body and simply take a day or two off knowing full well that I would come back stronger and more mentally aware. Yes, we are stubborn that way. As runners we often think we are invincible, but we know full well that we are not.
Today at work I lagged and was not performing at my peak. I knew it was time. Time to give in and rest. I’ve been running, doing Crossfit, training for Spartan and still keeping up with work and family and I am run down. So as I drove home from work today I decided to give in and give my body the rest it needs. For me, it’s never easy to do that. I literally have to be at the point of crashing before I will give in and rest. So I showered, put sweats on, made myself and the kids some yummy food and decided to blog about running.  Well if I can’t run, I can at least blog about it right?

Happy trails runner peeps and take a rest day every now and then.

- Runnerchik


Linda said...

Thanks for the interesting post today. You always told me to " listen to your body". How many years have you told me that.

You should not feel guilty about resting, as that is the way you renew your strength.

Jesus told his disciples to "come apart" in order to do a better job afterwards.
His advice is always good advice.

Julie Tolek said...

loved this! i am a fairly new runner (comparatively) and i have learned so well to listen to my body, and when i rest i DO perform so much better running AND in life! But i totally understand because i literally have to TALK to myself to appreciate the rest day and my brain goes back and forth between guilt and just enjoying it. I constantly remind myself how much better my life is when i rest. Count yourself lucky you are even getting that much sleep! I am full time law student and work and run and eat and study. That is my life. And I rarely get that much sleep!
I follow you on FB and love reading everything. Thanks!!

Kate Edney said...

Ugh I know that feeling. I have a rest day today, and I am not loving it - but it's well overdue! Kudos for pushing through that 13 miler though. Ouch!