The thing with running is your recovery days are as important as your long run days. When I was teaching yoga at studios, I used to guide my students into child's pose midway through the class. I'd have them rest there for a few moments. And, I'd always say to them, "These moments of rest are as important as the moments of activity. It's in these moments of rest that you allow your body to integrate."
The same holds true in running and in life. My knee started acting up about 8 weeks into training. I've had this knee pain in the past, and so I knew how bad it could get. I also knew that if I want to get to the starting line of the marathon, then I needed to nurse my knee. I needed to be mindful with how I chose to proceed with my training. And so, I extended my walking intervals. Instead of 30 sec: 30 sec run:walk intervals, I extended it to 30 seconds running and 90 seconds walking. That was even too much for a few of my long runs, so I ended up walking the entire thing a couple of times!
The interesting thing about these intervals is that I'm able to go further and feel better. My pace is relatively unaffected, and my body is able to recover better. What that says to me is that my performance and recovery actually improve with resting.
This makes sense for other parts of my life too. It's only when I create space to rest that I'm then able to return to laptop to write. When I allow my mind to rest on my days off, then I'm more alert and focused while at work. Whereas when I find myself pushing through, it takes a greater toll on my body, mind, and emotions. Those moments of rest actually make me better and more productive in other parts of my life.
Research on productivity show that taking scheduled breaks improves your workplace performance. A recent study found a ratio of 52 minutes on and 17 minutes off to be optimal for work-related tasks. The study also emphasized the importance of taking actual breaks. Like standing up, moving away from your laptop, and doing something non-work related. They cite going for a walk as being one of the best types of break. This makes sense to me because you’re bringing movement to your body. When you bring movement to your body, your brain releases endorphins. This shift in neurohormonal balance naturally leads to a shift in your mindset. Your perception moves from being singly-focused to more broad. In other words, you open your mind and expand the horizons of possibilities. You find more innovative solutions when you’re not actively engaged in your work.
This is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed training for the marathon so much. The chunks of time I’ve blocked off for running give me space away from everything else. It’s in that space that I find healing, inspiration, and solutions.
So, I challenge you this week to schedule in breaks. Notice how you feel. How much more you get done? And, more importantly, how effectively you’re able to get it done? I want to hear from you! Comment below and let me know how it goes!!