Life in NYC can be absolutely exhausting. The first day we arrived here at noon and by the time I went to bed I had accumulated over 27,000 steps. Between walking the city, getting my daily runs in, and teaching classes, it all adds up very quickly.
Tuesday it rained and I ended up taking two naps and opting out of running altogether. This is totally unlike me. I felt guilty. But my body was exhausted and I needed the rest. I knew it was worth it on Wednesday when I completed seven strong, hilly miles around Central Park.
As I had heading home after my run, I overheard a mom chatting with her young preteen daughter. She was explaining that her daughter was exhausted and she should aim to start getting six hours of sleep. Six hours?! As an adult that sounds like far too few hours for a functioning day. Children and young adults need even more rest time!
All of this talk about rest and taking time off seemed like a perfect opportunity to discuss treating our bodies well. All of us, especially runners and athletes, tend to push our bodies and minds. As important as it is to get your training runs in, it is just as vital to take recovery seriously.
Sleep: I might not be a Patriot’s fan, but there is no denying that everything Tom Brady does is clearly working. Tom is very serious about his sleep time and it clearly shows. Not only has he stayed healthy and strong for years, but let’s face it, he looks pretty good too. Sleep is necessary for recovery and keeping our bodies healthy.
Try aiming for 15-30 more minutes of sleep each night for a week or two and you will notice that you feel a little stronger on your runs.
Take your days off seriously: Rest days are recovery days. It is important to push our bodies when we work out. It is also equally important to take days off to allow our muscles to repair. When we continually push ourselves too much and for too long, we run the risk of injury.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend the entire day on the couch. Enjoy some active recovery. Go for a bike ride with friends or family. Take a light yoga or stretching class. Enjoy a walk in your favorite park. All of these will help flush out lactic acid and leave your muscles ready for new adventures.
Skip the pills and eat them instead: There is a lot of evidence showing that anti-inflammatories can be detrimental to athletes. These pills can help alleviate aches, but they also mask the pain and allow us to continue pushing through injuries. They don’t necessarily help heal what might be ailing us.
Try eating a diet full of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Bright red and green fruits and vegetables are powerful healers. Cherries and tart cherry juice have been proven to help aid in heart health and repairing muscles.
Eating protein with each meal can also help repair tissues. Don’t eat meat? No problem! Add rice and beans, quinoa, or tofu.
Get a massage or give yourself one: I am the worst culprit of this one. I wait and wait until my body is screaming before I go to my amazing massage therapist. He works wonders. However, if I practiced what I preach, I would spend a solid 5 minutes each day stretching, foam rolling, and taking care of my body.
It only takes a few minutes, but rolling over some foam or a lacrosse ball can help relax tight muscles and get rid of those pesky knots and kinks.
Give yourself a little extra: Sometimes you need that rainy Tuesday off. If your body is telling you to rest, give it that extra time. Take a look at your plan or chat with your coach about making adjustments. Some training runs are more important than others. But nothing is ever really set in stone. Things can be moved around if you need a little extra time off.
What do you do to help keep your body healthy and rested?