Rest feels like a death sentence to many athletes. Most athletes are obsessive about training and resting is often ignored, seen as being lazy, or taken begrudgingly. I was in the begrudging camp, only taking rest when I was told, perhaps indulging in another sport on my rest days to get a hit of endorphins. I definitely had my fill of rest, however, moping around in bed eating biscuits while I was injured but injury has given me an new appreciation for training and, oddly enough, rest.
Being a student most of my life, I now think rest blocks are akin to study week. You go to lectures, take notes, and do the daily grind but it all comes together just before the exam during study week when you do nothing but sit around and review what you have learned. Whatever your professor has been rambling on about for the semester finally sinks as your brain connects all the dots. The benefits of rest in training work the same way. You train, train, train and then during rest your body repairs, adapts to the training load, and prepares for the next block of training stress.
A lot of athletes don’t rest enough or at all and, like students who never study, the results aren’t favourable, often leading to injury and overtraining. I was never one of those students. In an obsessive pursuit of good grades, I was definitely a study week junkie: all nighters, cramming, and buckets of caffeine for seven days straight. Now I’m a rest block enthusiast and in my equally obsessive pursuit of athletic performance it means baking, picnicking, evening out tan lines, and napping is taken seriously. What can I say, I was always a good student.