Rest and Recovery: Listening to Our Bodies

Almost four years ago now, I attended a fundraising event for a non-profit organization that I love – impossible2Possible. At the event, I had the opportunity to meet Canadian Olympic athlete Melanie McCann. As I was, even back then, very eager to learn from our country’s top athletes, I asked her what recommendations she had for a newer athlete. Her answer: take those rest and recovery days very seriously. My coach at the time also insisted that this was crucial, so the message was loud and clear! It quickly became an important part of my beliefs regarding my training.

Olympian Melanie McCann and me

I consider myself very lucky to have learned this early on in my running career. I’ve benefited greatly from it. As many coaches say: consistency in training is key to good performance. How can anyone train consistently if they overwork their body and end up always injured? Muscles need a break in order to build and get stronger.

In training, my priority is always staying healthy and avoiding overtraining. The way I see it, taking care of myself and my body is also practicing self-love. I am always honest with my coach and let him know right away when I need a little extra rest. I know that it’s much better to take a few extra days when I need them than end up overtrained, sick, and possibly missing a week or more – or worse, end up too tired to race to the best of my ability.

People often assume that, because I am very competitive, it must be hard for me to take a break. The truth is that, if I work hard on the days where I am supposed to work hard, then I have earned the rest and recovery days and I appreciate them. If I work hard on easy days, not only do I risk injury, but I am also reducing the chances of having a solid workout on the hard days and then won’t gain the benefits of training as much as I should. And I definitely want to avoid that! So you see, it is because I am competitive that I take it easy on my recovery days (and the elites do too!).

Not only are breaks helpful for the body, but they are also essential for the mind. Always being focused on training and the things needed to reach my goals can be draining. I am just now slowly returning to training after an end-of-season break. I took some time off, went out on easy group runs, hung out with friends and ate some unhealthy restaurant food! In other words: I did all the things I cannot always do while training. This was exactly what I needed to recharge and feel excited about the upcoming training season. Now I’m ready to recommit to training and take on 2018!

beyong training

While this blog post is a little more focused on my training, the need for rest exists in every area of our lives. If we overdo anything and tire ourselves out, we cannot be our best. We cannot help anyone, give of ourselves or share our gifts with the world if we are not, first and foremost taking care of ourselves. I’ve learned many important lessons from running and self-care is definitely one of them.

What important lesson regarding rest and self care have your learned?

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