Do You Have The Courage To Rest?
When I ran my first marathon, I “hit the wall” at mile 20. Hitting the wall in marathon language means your body just simply runs out of energy. It’s an awful experience. When you hit it, it really does feel like running into a brick wall. I guess that’s where they derived the phrase from. Your legs feel like they are made of jelly, every step is an absolute agony of will, and you start to seriously doubt that the race even has a finish line. It usually happens due to insufficient training. I also thought it was a mental error of not truly believing I could do it.
So, I had an idea for my next training. Overtrain. Brilliant, right? Instead of gearing up for 26.2 miles, why don’t I train harder for my body to last 30+ miles? Also, it will help my mental game knowing that if I can run 30, I can surely last 26.2 during the race.
Well, big surprise. Your body actually doesn’t like that. In fact, if you look at all the top training schedules, the last couple of weeks before the race is all about tapering down in miles and prioritizing rest.
In 1954, everyone knew that running a mile in under 4 minutes was just not humanly possible. No one had ever done it, and no one ever would. Some came close – 4:14 in 1913, 4:06 in 1934, and 4:01 in 1945. But the last record stood for almost a decade, the best runners from all over the world tried with incredibly intensive power training which was designed specifically to break the barrier. But they all came up short. Eventually, the physiologists and physicians declared it impossible…they said the man’s heart and lungs could not withstand the demand.
Until British track star Roger Bannister did something completely out of the norm with his training. Two weeks before the race, he made what seemed like a very questionable decision and abandoned his training plan of intense intervals on the track and took off to the mountains of Scotland to…wait for it….that’s right….rest.
The crowd erupted with the 3 minutes, 59, and 4/10 of a second, announcement. Roger Bannister had broken the greatest barrier in human history. And he did it due to his courage to rest.
Why are we talking about rest? Because our current series is about reaching Peak Performance in whatever we are doing. Whether it’s sports, business, or life, we want to maximize our efforts to reach our very best. This is the formula: Stress + Rest = Growth. Learn more about the formula here, and learn more about stress here.
Avoiding rest will put you on a fast track to burnout. To keep us motivated, engaged, and passionate about something requires rest. I learned this the hard way. It will make a difference between sprinting through the finish line with your hands in the air in victory vs being carried out on a stretcher in total defeat.
On a practical note, here are three tips to having better rhythms of rest:
- Remember to breathe. It sounds obvious, but since the pandemic I’ve had to consciously remind myself of this. In the midst of all the hustle and rushing to get to the next task, don’t underestimate the power of a deep breath.
- Ignore the guilt. We love being productive, so any pause inevitably comes with a guilty voice condemning us for any perceived waste of time. Don’t listen. Rest is productive.
- Add “Nothing” to your schedule. Literally, write the word “Nothing” into your calendar. That way, when someone tries to make an appointment with you during that time, you can say, “I’m sorry, but nothing is more important than my meeting with you.”
Here’s to having the courage to do everything necessary to reach our peak – let’s get out there and rest!