Coach Tip Tuesday: You Can Do More In Six Days Rested Than You Can In Seven Days Tired
And just like that, it’s August…..AND time for another Coach Tip Tuesday!
If you’ve read even a paragraph of anything I’ve written or hung out with me for more than five minutes, you know that one of the things I am constantly preaching about is rest.
I’ve said it a thousand times: most athletes know how to work hard. But helping athletes reign it in and not overdo it is actually the bulk of my job.
Rest has become synonymous with laziness, and that’s something that honestly makes me upset. We are bombarded by messages that we must be productive, we must maximize every minute of the day, and that sleep is for the weak. Most of this thinking, simply put, is just wrong.
Hear me out. I know that there are bookends of this spectrum, so I’m certainly not suggesting that you should go lounge on the couch 20 hours out of the day. However, what I’ve seen time and time and time and time and time again is this:
You can do more in six days rested than you can in seven days tired.
No matter what faith you may identify with (or not, as it were :) ), I find it extremely interesting to note that the idea of rest is incorporated into the texts and practices of most major world religions (many of which date back thousands of years). While it might not be identified specifically as a “day of rest,” the idea that one should be deviating from their “normal” routine and devoting a portion of one’s week to the things that are ultimately the most important to them is a theme that repeatedly comes up. My point here is that the idea of rest or of a breakaway from our “normal,” everyday lives is a tale that is old as time, and is something that our ancestors found to be extremely important.
While this idea that rest actually helps you accomplish and achieve more is certainly applicable beyond the world of endurance sports, it’s ESPECIALLY true in endurance sports, especially for the 99% of us who are age-groupers. I’ve written about how there is conclusive data that shows that attempts at multitasking actually cost someone as much as 40% of their productive time and how we are actually most productive when we consistently include rest periods in our lives. Taking breaks from our workouts (a true rest day) allows us to come back ready and able to hit our workouts harder. Progress, over time, is actually expedited when rest is mindfully incorporated into one’s training plan.
So many people wish for this to be different, but it simply isn’t. And there are a ton of “self-help” resources out there that will try to tell you that you can maximize every minute and get ALL the things done. In endurance sports, many, many people have the opinion that more is better. These are simply untruths. Doing all the things can’t be done. However, we can make the most of our actual productive time (and productive time is different than total time available :) ). And we can do this by accepting that we can do more if we rest more.
I know, I know. It’s entirely counter to what has been tossed at us for the last many years. But it’s true. Many, many of us have had periods in our lives when we worked for days, weeks, months on end without a day off. And even if you haven’t worked for that many days in a row without a day off, I’m sure you’ve worked through a weekend, or taken a second job at some point in your life. Maybe it’s your reality now. Think back to that time in your life, or think about how you feel right now. Do you feel like you’re drowning? Do you feel like your brain is fuzzy? Are you snappy, irritable, or feeling like you have a list of things you’d like to do that grows longer and longer, but that you never make any real progress on?
This is 100% because you’re not giving yourself a break, a time to rest. And without that period of downtime, your “up”time is compromised. It’s not you at 100%. It’s you at a fraction (perhaps a small fraction) of that 100%.
Now think back to how you feel when you get away for a day or two. When you disconnect from your “normal” life. Even if you have a list of to-dos, when you come back from that little hiatus, don’t you feel that much more capable and empowered to embark on the tasks that you’d like to accomplish?
Resting is as much a mental reprieve or reset as it is a physical one, and our bodies need both. We are not just our brains, and we are not just our tissues. We are a complete being, with these two parts working together quite intimately all the time.
My advice for all of you this week is this: don’t scoff at the idea of taking regularly scheduled periods of rest in your lives. And by rest, I mean TRUE rest. Not “Oh, I have found time, so I can get XYZ done.” ACTUALLY rest. Do something different than what you normally do. Read a book - for FUN. Pick out cloud shapes in the sky. Watch a silly Netflix show. Journal. Sketch. Play a board game.
You can accomplish more in six days rested than you can in seven days tired. Don’t push yourselves to the brink, and just survive. Aim to THRIVE. And to thrive, we need to rest. Embrace this, and your endurance life and personal life WILL thrive. :)
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.