Sweet Rest Days

rest-day-squirrelThis week has been challenging. I entered the second mesocycle of the DailyBurn workout program that I’m doing, and it’s been a wonderful but exhausting change of pace. I’ve gone from roughly 30-35 minutes of cardio and strength training to about 45-55 minutes. At 5:30 in the morning, that’s really saying something.

And while in downward dog during this morning’s cool-down, sweat dripping from my face and stomach, it made me really, really appreciate yesterday – my rest day.

When I get going on some sort of physical activity, it can take me a little while to settle into a reasonable balance and pace myself. Take a rest day? If I do that then surely I’ll lose my focus and quit. Or so I used to think.

Truth is, our bodies needs a regular break so that there’s a chance to recover. In general, I think we’re so accustomed to instant gratification that we don’t want to wait to see physical improvements, so we push harder and faster – until we’ve overtrained or given up. I’ve been there, and it’s one of the most counterproductive, defeating feelings.

That said, rest days don’t mean do nothing. In reality, I was supposed to do about 50 minutes of mobility yoga yesterday morning. Did I? Nope. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Yesterday was also supposed to be a kickboxing day. Did I go? Nope. I went home and started prepping for a weekend camping trip. So what did I do? I walked. I walked about a mile during my morning break again for my afternoon break. That amounted to about 30-40 minutes of low-intensity activity – great for my recovery day given my physical level.

And today I feel fantastic. I got up (begrudgingly) this morning, scooped up my medicine ball, and kicked ass for about 45 minutes. When I think about how the rest of this week has gone – how tired I’ve been and how challenging it’s been to adapt to more intense morning workouts – I’m a little amazed at how much of a difference my rest day made.

Now I’m ready to take on the day, and I’m excited to mix things up on my camping trip this weekend with some hiking, trail running, swimming – and a little bit of rest.

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