Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slog days versus rest days

The wind hasn’t started yet. The forecast calls for 25-35MPH West winds today with gusts over 40. Winds that strong can actually pick up small pebbles and pelt you in the face with them.

So I will not be riding today. At least not outside. Today is a good day to go to the YMCA.

I’ve had two slog days and a rest day. Rest is an important part of exercise. The body needs to recover so it can go at it again. Rest days are essential. Slog days, on the other hand, are those days when it’s tough to get motivated but the body still wants and needs to move.

When I rode my 90-miler, I had no expectations of making it that far. Between work and a math class I was taking, I hadn’t kept up with the training schedule. DH kept reassuring me that I would do fine and that rest is important. I told myself that I’d shoot for at least a  metric century (62 miles), go as far as I could and that there was no shame in flagging a ride from the sag wagon.

I surprised myself with how far I rode -- and I made it back to the start under my own steam. DH was right: rest is important.

So often, I see the people who write on health and fitness blithely dismiss “excuses” for not exercising. They tell us to replace “self-defeating” thoughts like “I don’t have time to exercise” with “I’ll make time!” (exclamation points often figure big in the overall perkiness.) Well, when I went to work the other day at 7:30 in the morning, came home from class at 8 p.m. to a dirty kitchen with a growling stomach and was trying to accomplish everything with a mind and body that require 7-8 hours of sleep to function... well, sorry honey, this was no excuse. I truly did NOT have time that day to do a full-out workout.

One of the “excuses” is that we are tired, and the admonition is that exercise will give us more energy. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes if we force ourselves out the door and begin moving, we will remember why we like to do this and why it makes us feel good. Sometimes, our body is just telling us “sit, stay, DOWN!” as if to a disobedient puppy.

Slog days can be tough to tell from rest days,  but when I listen to my body, it lets me know. On a slog day, I might go out slow and pick up steam. I might go for a shorter time, or at a slower pace. If I try to slog it and it’s not working, I pack it in and make it a rest day. Our bodies know. We might mistake a slog day for a rest day or vice versa, but both are important. We can trust ourselves to learn when to push ourselves and when to take it easy.

On my two slog days, I got on the bike trainer and pedaled slower and more easily than normal. The second night, I hula hooped a few minutes under the stars on a non-icy patch of sidewalk. I moved for what time I had in a way that I enjoyed, and I was glad I made time for it. Last night, no training schedule, no “fitness goals,” nothing on earth could have moved me off the couch.

There is no shame, no failure in rest. Rest is healing. Today I don’t feel is if I have to exercise -- I want to. I would not feel that way without some rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment