Rest is best

Rest! I am always banging on about the benefits of a rest day to my clients – how can your body benefit from the exercise you’re doing if you don’t give it time to recover and build? And I do practice what I preach, taking one or two days off out of every week. But then last week I had my Covid vaccine and the side effects wiped me out for four days. Which was hugely frustrating, but what a difference it has made!

There are some steep steps at the side of our house, which lead to our garden. I climb them several times a day to take our dog out for her toilet breaks. Every time I go up, my left knee grumbles. I don’t know how long this has been going on for, because I hadn’t even registered it was happening until, following four days’ rest, I climbed them and… nothing! My running and HIIT workouts have benefitted too; I just feel stronger and less niggly, and it just goes to show that having time off really can improve your performance and generally benefit your body! So now I’m still planning on a couple of days per week but will also factor in a few days in a row every now and then – my body likes it and I generally just enjoyed spending quality time with my sofa and Netflix.

(Or, another theory: maybe the vaccine has made me superhuman?….)

Professor Wiggles knows the secret to being an accomplished athlete.

It’s all about me

I’ve been cultivating this new attitude: stop pressuring myself. When we enter events, we instantly start to feel the pressure – it’s official, you’re going to run or cycle or climb or whatever, on this date, for this distance and you’re going to be measured officially in some way too. And that’s all good in terms of rising to the challenge and improving your sport, but what about the pressure from peers and fellow contestants? And from yourself? Some people thrive on this, and I think I did once, too, but these days I’ve realised I need to re-shape my priorities and stop thinking about stats and stuff.

I’m training for the Race to the Stones ultra marathon at the moment and, rather than beating my best time, I’m just aiming to get there. To start. To enjoy it. Whatever happens after the gun… happens. I’ve done what I can to make my body strong and ready and that’s all I can do. I can’t control conditions, trips and falls, sniffles, hay fever, a bad night’s sleep, so why worry? All sounds very zen, right? It’s pretty hard but I am trying. Enjoying the ride is what I want to do, I don’t want to find myself dwelling what might go wrong. (Obviously, I am dwelling on what might go wrong, but I am trying not to and that’s a good first step.)

I’ll let you know how I get on. But then again, I might not. No pressure, right?