I am the worst at taking a rest day or slowing down and getting in a good, long stretch. In fact – it is a huge problem and one I battle every week. Why is it so hard? I know what to do, I know how to do it, I just don’t always execute. At it’s core – to be a good athlete and take yourself to becoming a great athlete, rest days are a must. My definition of a great athlete is becoming the strongest you can be in your sport. Rest days are important for many reasons. Take at least one full rest day a week to truly let your body recover.
Your muscles are working for you every day. Treat them with the rest and care that they deserve. Muscles get stronger during rest. They break down during exercise and then rebuild during recovery. You actually have to stop working to reap the rewards of your workout. Workout hard for no more than 3 days a week. Workout at an easy effort for 2-3 days a week and rest at least one day a week, but you can bump that up to two days if you wish.
Get 7-10 hours of rest each night. Sleep is when your muscles rebuild, hormones balance and your mind recovers. Ever notice how when you pull an all nighter your mind is fuzzy the next day and you crave sugar and unhealthy food? That’s because you are lacking sleep and your body is crying out for rest. Your hormones are out of balance and your body can’t perform at its best.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Water is essential for athletes. Having enough water keeps you from suffering from heat related illness during exercise, improves skin tone, lowers levels of stress on the heart and allows for better nutritional uptake in food.
Regularly add 10-15 minutes of stretching post workout. Or add a yoga class or two to your workout routine per week. Tight muscles lead to injury or shortened stride length for runners. It’s important to keep your muscles, tendons and ligaments loose to prevent injury. You can also use a foam roller for self-myofascial release.
Eat natural foods and try to limit the amount of processed foods you put into your body. The more fresh, organic produce, fruits and vegetables you can eat the better. They are full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to perform at its best. Shoot for the 80/20 rule: Eat whole foods 80% of the time and eat treat foods 20% of the time. No one is perfect – but having a goal to shoot for can keep you on the right track and keep your body strong.