After a winter-long break from high impact workouts, I’ve gained a new respect for rest days. These past few months I’ve learned to appreciate recovery as an essential part of the fitness equation. After several months of running and other forms of high impact exercise I was starting to show both the physical and mental effects of over training.
- muscle soreness
- stiff/achy joints
- lack of motivation
As I have addressed in a previous blog– my focus for the winter was to reset my body through an active recovery period. For me, this meant a lot of walking and yoga while dialing down my resistance training from plyometrics to Pilates. Now after using the winter months to focus on rest, I’m approaching spring with a new perspective. Here are a few things my rest and recovery period taught me…
1. There’s no shame in cutting back.
You’re the only one who can tell when you’re body is being pushed too far. This isn’t a day by day situation. It comes after continuously to push your body without taking a day or two of rest between tough days. If your body is telling you it has had enough in the form of soreness or fatigue you’ll be better off cutting back either by skipping a day or doing a very light, low impact activity.
2. Schedule rest days to prevent over training in the first place.
Just like strength, cardio, and flexibility training; recovery is required as part of a well balanced wellness routine. Avoid burnout all together by taking a day or two off each week. I usually make my “rest day” on a day that I have an otherwise packed schedule. This helps my body recover and my mind stay sane on stressful days. Unless you are training vigorously for some sort of event, going hard 7 days a week is not necessary and in most cases, not sustainable.
3. A recovery period doesn’t have to mean slowing down.
Personally, I took this time to slow down on my workout regimen and focus my attention on other things like work and family. However, if that’s just not what you’re feeling, by all means keep the momentum going– just move it in a new direction. Been logging mile after mile and now your feeling the burn out? Your recovery period could be switching to more resistance style training or a spin class instead. Just utilizing different muscles will give the others a chance to repair themselves from the overuse they may have been subjected to. Get creative with your routine and most importantly, go with what you feel your body needs!
4. Stretching is essential to the recovery process.
One struggle of choosing running as my cardio is being plagued by tight hip flexors. My newfound yoga practice has made this all too apparent. It really pointed out the fact that I rarely stretch during my post-run routine. Learn from my mistake and take care of your body before, during, and after your workouts.
But stretching provides so much more than physical benefits. A solid stretch session is great way to revive your muscles. Match your breathing with your stretch to help yourself relax fully. Not to mention, mindful stretching is a great way to assess how your body is feeling, part by part. Tune into what your body is telling you and adjust accordingly.
5. Rest and recovery encourages balance.
A short break from routine puts the life back in your healthy lifestyle. If working out is making you feel more stressed, chances are you’re over doing it. Exercise should add to the quality of your life not take away from it. Ease up or try a new activity that works your body in new ways to refresh your schedule.
If you’re experiencing burn out physically or mentally, don’t give up. Listen to your body and know when it’s time to take a step back. Make your come back when your mind and your body is recharged.