The Value of Rest
Exactly 6 weeks before the WPS Half Marathon, my neighbour/coach/running friend convinced me to sign up for the race. Maybe convinced is a strong word… I was ready for a push to help me get my fitness and nutrition back on track, and this was it. So, moments after I signed up, I sat down a created a 6 week training plain. Now listen, I don’t recommend training for a half marathon in 6 weeks, but seeing as this wasn’t my first go at it, I knew it was doable. I just had to let go of any expectation of getting a personal record (PR)… gulp!
My plan all laid out, I went to work. I started on Tuesday, March 22nd with a kettlebell (KB) workout, followed by a 4.35km run the next day. I already had to postpone the next KB workout by a day because my legs were soooooore, so that workout happened on the Friday. Saturday, we left home early in the morning to drive halfway to Banff for a family getaway during Spring Break. I knew I needed to get a long run in so once we made it to Swift Current, my family headed to the pool, and I, to the treadmill. Let me start off by saying that I strongly dislike treadmills on the best of days, and that day was especially not my day. After 2km, I paused the treadmill to have a sip of water and immediately got lightheaded and felt like I was going to pass out. Not wanting to embarrass myself in front of the two other people in the room, I grabbed my water and darted out to the hallway, only to realize that I’d left my room key in the treadmill. The door had already closed and locked. I was seeing stars. Not good. I took a breather and then asked a lady walking down the hall if I could use her key just to get back into the workout room. I quickly grabbed my own key out of the treadmill and finally made my way back to my hotel room. It took me a long time to get rid of the nausea I was feeling. I sat there and breathed and eventually started to feel better. No long run for me. Such a great start to my already very short half marathon training plan.
The next morning, we hit the road again and made our way to Drumheller. We had a really nice day there exploring and hiking, and we then drove to Calgary. With a full day, a run didn’t happen and neither did a workout but I was okay with that, because after the treadmill incident, I could tell that my body needed rest.
Monday morning came and I woke up with a sore throat… tested… positive. Covid. And, it made its way through my family. Happy Spring Break to us!
Long story short, Covid wiped me out. Hard! I mean, I’m pretty sure that I would’ve been hospitalized had I not been vaccinated. It was that bad. And wouldn’t let up. I definitely got the worst of it in my family, as moms usually do, and couldn’t even work the week after Spring Break. Once I did manage to get enough energy to be back in the classroom, that was all I could do. I was out of breath walking down the hall. I was exhausted and ready for bed at the bell. And so, my training plan got left to the side.
My first run post-Covid was on Saturday, April 16th, which was just over 2 weeks away from race day. I ended up doing a very slow 10k with a few walk breaks and decided to let go of the workouts before race day. I managed to get a few 5ks in before race day and a very slow 15k with a friend to test out 10s and 1s (running for 10 minutes then walking for one, and repeat).
As you can see, I hadn’t trained nearly enough for a half marathon which is 21.1k, so I decided that the best strategy was to go into it with fixed plan – 10s and 1s and don’t deviate from the plan. With this, I figured that I would probably cross the finish line about 2.5 hours after starting, which would be my slowest half ever (previous times for official halfs are 2:02:17 and 1:56:18). I was okay with that and had accepted it. I went into the run ready to soak it all up and not stress about time in the least.
I stuck to my plan and every time I heard a chime telling me to walk, I did. Surprisingly, though, doing 10s and 1s actually didn’t slow down my time nearly as much as I thought it would! Knowing that I had built in rest periods within my run allowed me to push harder during the running portions. I felt great throughout and really enjoyed the whole experience despite my lack of training. I ended up finishing in 2:05:48, which if you’re a runner, you know that is a HUGE difference from my expected 2:30!
Interesting, isn’t it? Build in rest within your plan, and you just may be able to go faster than if you’d worked nonstop! And the most beautiful thing is that this applies to so much more than just running! Building in rest, breaks, self-care, or whatever you want to call it, is not only necessary, but if used correctly and consistently, it just may end up helping you do even more than if you’d left it out completely.
The value of rest is underrated but if we remember that it enables us to do more in less time, maybe we’ll be able to lean into it more easily.
How will you ensure that you plan for regular and consistent rest, and then follow through and do it?