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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And He Rested On The Seventh Day: Thoughts on a runner taking a rest day

Rest. Aren't we all wishing we could rest more? Not me. I want to run. I can't. I can, I should say. I shouldn't.

Today is a day off. I ran the last three days, and have a tough workout tomorrow with the Spivey Running Club.

The practices are usually tough, but with the added heat component, it kicks up a notch. Jim's wise to this and might adjust things. He can tweak things all he likes, but that will do nothing to the temperature.

So, today is a day off. I want to run. I want to run long, every day. I want to run fast, every day. Both are not likely on the same day, and, some days are better off accomplishing neither. Rest.

God took off Sunday, or Saturday if you like. Either way, He worked hard for six days and kicked back one day. He rested, and he checked out what He did the earlier part of the week. God did not need a rest. He is not bound by physical limitations. I am. Even the fastest runner needs to rest.

There are two kinds of rest days.
  1. Intended. Those days off I decide to take as recovery from what came before, and to prepare for what is to come.
  2. Unintended. These might be due to injury, general exhaustion, or life stepping into the mix. Really nasty weather could be the cause. All, though, are a crick in the schedule, altering all future plans.

The intended days off are freeing. I planned not to run today. I awake, drink some coffee, take care of other matters when I might have been running. I am free today from doing anything to prep for a run. I eat what I want, drink what I want, when I want. There will not be an hour when I have finished the run, but am still tired and in the immediate throes of recovery. I see tomorrow's track workout with a fresh desire.

The unintended days off are the worst. If it is because I ran too hard the day before, scheduled my day poorly, or was just feeling lazy, it grates on me.

As I become fitter, the days off will be different. Right now, my body is still acclimating to the long run, the short hard run, the race, all of that. So is my mind. I look at distances and wonder if I can finish, or, in the case of the Spivey Club workouts, keep up. Those folks are fast. My confidence is improving, as is my fitness, but this is a journey. There is a pain that goes with this, and a need to press through that pain. On hot afternoons, the lure of lemonade, sitting on a porch, listening to Louis Armstrong, reading a book is strong.

When I can look at most distances and not be intimidated, days off will take on a new light. Addiction? I have heard it happens. No endorphins streaming through. No burn followed by victory. No looking back on the road less taken, being unable to see through nature's corridors the beginning of the run.

And so, today is a day off. I'm drinking coffee, reading, catching up on e-mail, looking forward to tomorrow.

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