Rest Like Champions
Rest is one of our most powerful tools yet it is so often overlooked with increasingly longer working hours and the belief that we must work harder and more to see better results, both in the office and on the running track. This is relevant to both elite athletes and recreational runners.
Hard work only becomes smart and sustainable work when it is supported by rest and resting often hard takes more guts and effort than working hard.
It’s not just about accumulating hours of work but the quality of the work that is produced.
If we never take ‘easy’ periods we are never able to go full throttle and the ‘hard’ periods end up being not that hard at all. We get stuck in the grey zone. This is both short and long term.
One of the best ways to improve our recovery is improve the hygiene of our sleep. Sleep is the most powerful tool for rest and recovery. Instead of searching for magical supplements focus on improving your sleep. In our sleep we grow both physically and mentally.
- Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours per night
- Expose yourself to natural light during the day
- Exercise but not too close to bedtime
- Limit caffeine intake before bedtime
- Limit blue light exposure before bed
- Don’t start working in hard stressful activities after tea
- Try meditating before bed to slow down racing minds
- Keep your room as dark as possible
Taking a nap of 10-30minutes to restore energy during mid afternoon lulls is also beneficial.
Longer term rest periods are also extremely beneficial to continued development.
End of season breaks allows your body to recuperate from hard training. We mistakenly believe if we rest the competition will pass us, however have you ever stopped to think that well timed rest periods can actually help you overtake the competition? Just like sleep we feel like we’re somehow missing out but we are actually missing out on far more by not sleeping!
Stress + growth = growth is a simple equation, but an effective way of structuring your days, weeks and years to enable a lifetime of satisfaction and improvement.
After I’ve run a marathon or at the end of a hard season, I follow that up with a holiday, with little to no exercise to recover and adapt to all of the hard work I put in during the marathon build up. Without this break my performance would suffer, maybe not over the next couple of weeks but certainly over the proceeding months. This is both mentally and physically.
Take away points
- Take at least one day off every week
- Then more stress the more rest
- Time holidays to follow longer periods of stress e.g. End of a season or post marathon
- Have the courage to take breaks throughout the day
- Take a short walk
- Embrace nature, research shows that nature can help with the transition from stress to rest and also promotes creative thinking.