“Seven days a week”, he said.
“No rest day at all?” I asked.
He’d been complaining of tiredness, mental fatigue in his work, difficulty in holding attention on anything.
He said that he was well able to train the seven days, that he was getting himself fitter and faster and stronger, that because he still fulfilled his training schedule, he was not anywhere his training limits.
A lot of people think that. That more is better. That pushing yourself to the limit, and beyond, is the key to real fitness. Now, that may be alright if you’re a professional athlete. Then you can train, eat and sleep in the cycle that lets you endure that kind of performance.
But most of us today must work for a living as well, so life is not centred around the gym, but all those other wonderful things that make our lives worthwhile. We need rest.
Rest is probably the most overlooked factor in any fitness or wellness programme.
The body needs to repair itself after a training session. A well-executed training session is akin to a self-inflicted assault. Rest, repair and revitalisation are necessary. That’s when you get fitter, stronger, faster; when you’re resting.
Even if you can perform in your training for the moment, you’ll be affected in other ways. Fatigue will set in and affect you mentally and emotionally. Concentration, sleep, digestion, elimination, normal metabolism will all be thrown out of kilter as your system seeks a way to get its rest and repair itself.
And it doesn’t matter how much you love it or how good you are at it. You can end up wearing yourself down, burning out, and suffering the very unwelcome consequences.
A few years ago, I heard a professional rugby player speaking about his training. It was a routine of train, eat, sleep, train, eat, sleep, train, eat, sleep. He was emphatic about the ‘sleeping’ bit being as much a part of the routine as the other two parts.
While we all have individual responses, and react to our lives accordingly, the basic principles prevail for us all.
Most people focus on training and nutrition in their efforts to be healthy and well. And that’s a good thing.
Over the past years, I’ve seen individuals make changes in their training and rest patterns, with an impressive improvement in physical performance, and an even better improvement in their life performance.
It will pay you to look to your rest patterns too. You may very well find that there is an element there that will impact in a powerfully positive way on your efforts. Try it.