I started out November with super-great intentions. "THE WAY TO FIX MY LETHARGY IS TO SET NEW GOALS!!!" "I'M DOING THE 30-DAY SHRED FOR 30 DAYS!!!!!!!!" "IMMA SWIM SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!!"
So, I did Jillian's "30-Day Shred" for, I think, five days in a row before I A) got bored with it, B) lost motivation, and C) realized it may have been contributing to some knee pain I was having. Feeling a bit frustrated, I quit. Do I regret not meeting that goal? Not especially. As the days went by, I found myself wondering why I had set this goal in the first place. I suppose it was to prove to myself I could do it. But quitting didn't give me the feeling of disappointment I thought it would garner. Instead, I just let it go. Letting go of a goal you didn't meet feels a whole hell of a lot better than beating yourself up for not meeting it.
As for my swim goals, I can't say I didn't swim for all of November. I made it my business to get in the pool at least once a week, some weeks twice. I was mostly pleased with the effort. However, with all of this, the lethargy and tiredness was still hanging around. There are few things more aggravating than having the desire to run or swim, and having about 20% capacity for doing these things. A good friend of mine suggested a video to me early in November, citing that athletes (especially those of us who train for endurance events pretty consistently) need rest. Rest? What is this rest you speak of? Like, I have to not run? Or swim? Or do my usual weight training? This sounds harder than any of the challenges I had set for myself early in November.
After watching this video (http://www.5min.com/Video/The-Importance-of-Recovery-Time-For-Athletes-516970594#src=rss), I set my mind to take the week of Thanksgiving off. Ladies and gentlemen, this was much harder than it sounds. No running, no swimming, no biking, not even yoga. The most I did was a couple of 1/2 mile walks. I think I put on a few pounds that week (who's good idea was it to take the week of THANKSGIVING off???), and not working out made me feel grumpy. But I rested. I got some sleep, I drank some water, and I vegged a bit. I read. I knitted. I just relaxed.
And amazingly, I think it did the trick. After a whole week off, I eased into a few workouts. I did an indoor triathalon with some friends earlier this month, with the events "reversed" (15 minute run, 15 minute bike, 15 minute swim). I felt really, really good about it- my run was solid despite not doing much speedwork last month, my bike wasn't terrible, and my swim was smokin'. Just shy of 700 yards in 15 minutes? I'll take it! Since then, I've started up with a new season of Borgess Run Camp (training for the half instead of the full marathon this year), and this week I had my first run in quite some time where I didn't feel sluggish the whole way.
So how important is rest? I think I've deduced that rest is just as important as the workout. Get 7-9 hours of sleep. Turn off the TV. Read a book or play a board game. Listen to music, knit a hat, have a glass of wine. Take some time every day to unwind and relax; isn't the point of exercise to improve your stress level, not raise it?
"I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting." ~ Mark Twain