The disease of the United States appears to be not pushing hard enough, unless referring to food in the mouth. However, many athletes, myself included, at times can fall prey to pushing too hard for too long. We end up injured, under performing, and probably cranky.
Active Rest is important, no it’s not a good idea for a highly conditioned or even recreational athlete who trains regularly to just stop all activity. However the body needs deep rest and the mind needs to rejuvenate for the next round of focused training and competition. For athletes who have true “seasons” this is perhaps easier to see and or implement. However even during their season they need down time.
The most common pit fall for most is the thought that more is always better, mentally they want/expect to be at their peak 365 days a year. This is not possible. The higher the level of performance, the harder and more specific the training, the greater the output, the more precarious the situation can get. What it boils down to is everyone needs rest. To quote my dear friends at Gym Jones: “Don’t do the work if you don’t have the balls to rest.”
Here’s a visual for you, take a sledgehammer to a wall in your home, bust out all the drywall for 2 hrs. Then you get the rest of the day to go get materials and supplies to rebuild the damage, hopefully you’ll do a better job than the first time it was done. You probably won’t get it done that day. The next day, same thing, different wall. Keep trying to rebuild that wall in the limited free time you have that day, yes you still have to go to work. Day three same thing. Day four you finally get smart and “rest” from busting up your house so you can “catch-up” on fixing the drywall. You almost finish but you’re exhausted. Day five start it again.
I hope by now you’ve seen the metaphor. Training is breaking down the body…taking really. You can wrap it up anyway you want: it’s “healthy”, I’m an “athlete”, but the body needs to rebuild itself to be strong, fit, healthy, and perform well. Just like your home in the above example you will reside in a broken down worn out body if you don’t take time to rebuild and rest.
Always have good recovery practices, great nutrition, good sleep, laughter and time with friends, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care. Then schedule a vacation at an appropriate time, a week (or more) to do only fun things, or just stay home but and stay active but don’t do your usual sports or activities, get extra sleep, this could be up to a month for some athletes. You’ll come back rested, excited to train and compete again, you’ll miss it, if you don’t maybe you need a longer vacation…