Thursday, January 3, 2013

On the Seventh Day, You Shall Rest...

Perhaps the commandment I have the hardest time with.  I guess I'd much prefer it if it was a suggestion.

Despite previous failed attempts at sabbath keeping, I believe it's important.  I really try to be away from the church and its business for at least one or (ideally) two days a week. I don't check email. I don't keep my phone too handy.  I do other things-- things that feed my soul.  I believe I'm a better person and pastor when I've taken a day off. I even try to make sure that other people take a day off.  (Uhem...)   And I get the reason behind it-- not only because even the Lord rested when the creating was finished, but because when the Israelites were under Pharoah's watch, they were slaves and had no days off.  The sabbath was intended as a celebration to remind them that they were no longer slaves.  (Uhem, again...)

But of course, this lovely theology of mine does not seem to translate into how I think about exercise.  He-who-trains (lovingly, I'm sure) told me I was like an energetic puppy who didn't know when to quit.  DH has given me the lecture before because I seem to him to always be going and wanting to do more.  And my dad, I think, really hated my "Go Hard or Go Home" shirt that I wore when I was doing Tae Kwon Do-- because it probably describes my life philosophy a little too well.

When He-Who-Trains announced that I was taking a mandatory rest day ("no weights, no cardio-- not even low intensity, nothin'") I tried not to visbly snarl at him. I'm sure I failed because I hate rest days more than I hate low-intensity-pedal-for-what-feels-like-hours days.  I want to go, and do this.  I like the feeling of working hard.  I swear that knowing I'm exercising later keeps me eating well (uh...better) throughout the day.  I feel lazy and lethargic if I don't.

I saw the below words some time ago, and tucked them away, knowing that I would need to be reminded.

For some messed-up reason, our athletic egos still feel that we only get faster as we pedal harder, run quicker and swim stronger. It’s athlete psychology—all of our confidence is built around the times that we actually destroy our bodies. But it’s only the rest afterward that makes our bodies stronger.

Because of this psychological dichotomy, when and how long to rest is the hardest decision to make as an athlete. It takes a level of confidence above even the level necessary to push your body to the limit. You don’t get the endorphin release, the feeling of accomplishment, and the external and internal praise and satisfaction. All you get are feelings of losing your edge, getting out of shape and nervous anticipation.

So the next time you need to rest, whether it be for a mid-season break, post-big race, or just an easy day or two between training blocks, remember that it takes confidence to rest. Remember that it is just insecurity and a lack of endorphin release that makes you feel like you’re getting out of shape. Know that when you decide to rest, you’re making the right call—the better, smarter decision. Feel good and confident about it. You’ve done yourself a favor—you have literally just made yourself a better athlete.-Jesse Thomas, Professional Triathlete & CEO of Picky Bars, originally read on Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes on Facebook

Today is a rest day, and I've stopped snarling-- even when He-who-trains sent me a text from the gym.  I've gotten some work done.  I've had a few minutes to think idle thoughts.  I might even read for fun tonight. Tomorrow I will push hard again, safely, because today I rested.