So we all know that part of training is also knowing when to rest. Resting however, is not just a question of when but also a question of how. Many times, when an athlete rests, he or she is still thinking about the sport and while the body physically takes a break from the rigors of training, the mind is still actively pursuing excellence.
When I ask athletes to rest or take a day off, one of the things I like to remind them is to also turn their minds off. Think about anything else but the sport. Don’t even think about the YouTube video you saw about running faster or hitting the ball better, just do something else. Resting is both mental and physical.
Just like the body, the mind too needs a rest. We see athletes coming back from a rest day, obviously well-deserved but still complaining about mental fatigue or displaying an inability to focus during a session. When quizzed, we found that most of them with the exception of the rare cases, were still involving their minds in the sport one way or another and yes, this includes watching the same sport you are playing on TV. As brutal as it sounds, everything needs a complete rest on a rest day.
So, what should an athlete do on a rest day? First of all, keeping nutrition levels at an optimum are still necessary so the athlete still needs to eat well. It should be a lifestyle and not something practiced only during training days. Catching up on sleep is a good way to really rest as well. Get in those extra hours that you feel you need to recharge, after all, it is a rest day. Geddit? When you’re finally done with that, get out there and do the things you can’t usually do when you’re training that hard. For example, spend more time with your loved ones, take a walk at the zoo or in the park, do ANYTHING except your sport. Don’t physically do it and don’t mentally think about it either. Many athletes we work with dwell on a bad training session the day before or a bad race or match, these things happen. Let it go and its time to move on.
The most natural reaction for any athlete is to reflect on a bad training session or thinking about how to get better on rest days. Do those on days that you are actually training or in between sessions. Notice how the best athletes are truly “off” on rest days? They don’t want to talk about anything related to their sport or their training and some even become visibly agitated. Why? They already do it everyday and the last thing they want to talk about is about something they have already devoted their lives to.
So, the next time you have a rest day, utilise it fully to rest your body and mind. You’ll find that the next session becomes a lot more meaningful. After all, you had to earn that rest day.
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