“So during your season, you’re in constant training as a road cyclist.”
“What do you do in the off-season?”
“And each season is about six months?”
“Yeah, about that”
“…You realize that you’re still doing the same sport?”
“No it’s road racing and cross.”
“…But you’re still on a bike.”
“So? That counts as cross-training?”
This is a conversation I had with one of my clients on the topic of cross-training to improve race performance. I use it as an example, of how insidious the ego can be when it comes to the topic of Rest. R-E-S-T is seriously underrated.
People don’t realize that sustained MILD sleep deprivation can result in your cognitive function (ability to do basic stuff, plus reaction time and accuracy) being the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. In the workplace, we drive ourselves towards the 60 hour mark and think it’s a good thing, a sign of good effort & productivity. But in fact, most offices would likely fire an employee that showed up repeatedly intoxicated at the above level. We have a disconnect from “perceived effort” – what it takes to get work and get the job done right and what is actual reality! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1739867/
How many of us don’t take proper vacation days until it becomes a “use it or lose it” situation? You don’t think you are tired; but then you get on the beach and three days later you realize how dire your state, mental and physical actually have been! I once had a client who was a NYC partner in a financial research company. She decided to dedicate three hours out of the 168 in a week to herself and regaining her physical health. Her partners put pressure on her and implied that she wasn’t taking her job seriously. But luckily, she ignored them and stuck with the priority of her own self-care. Over the next year, she shared with me that she had started charting her productivity and the better care she took of herself, the more productive she was. She lost twenty pounds, began running marathons and her work, contrary to popular belief excelled. And her partners, who sat around the table audibly wheezing, began to respect her because they saw the positive change.
Your brain thrives when it is properly rested. The NIH recommends 7-8 hours/night for adults. So too does your body thrive when you just give it some time off. If you play a sport, do something completely different even if it’s just for 6-8 weeks. As we head into summer, I hear panicked clients saying, “What should I do on my two weeks off?” I always say, “Relax. Do Nothing. If you want to go on a stroll or a hike or even a bike ride with loved ones, then do so. But if you want to sit in the lawn chair and just breathe that would be perfect too!” http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/howmuch.html
As a teenager I was a nationally ranked Equestrian; I rode all year long and was always working on performance and technique. When I went to college, I was forced to stop for three months. But when I came back to ride my trainer of ten years said, “Have you been riding while you’ve been at school? All the things you were struggling with seemed to sink in while you were gone. You’re looking fabulous!” This is one reason why cross training or just pure rest are good for the body; it allows time for the learning to sink in and for the overused parts to rest.
Twenty years ago when I was in secondary school/high school, kids played different sports each season. Nowadays, kids play one sport year round and they play it hard; everyone has their eye on college athletic scholarships or awards. Disturbingly, doctors and physical therapists are seeing more and more pelvic fractures, repeat fractures and other dangerous injuries in youth simply due to the overtraining! As my conversation with the cyclist above illustrates, the body likes rest and that includes doing different movement patterns and sometimes just the one pattern of couch potato. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00247-009-1191-z#page-1
We must let go of this unhealthy “driven superhero” attitude. How many of us want to drive hard for the first 65 years and then arrive as a wreck in your retirement? If you are rested, sleep 7-8 hours/night most nights, vary your workout routine, break up the schedule with short bouts of complete physical vacation your work productivity will increase and so too will your enjoyment of your life. When you get to the golden goal, you will be able to fully enjoy it! Hallelujah! Say it with me now, “R-E-S-T!”