Sometimes the toughest workout … is REST!

Who is tired of the flu? Amen?

flu1My daughter had the flu two weeks ago. Then my son had an allergic reaction (read: projectile vomiting) to Tamiflu. Ten days after the initial flu diagnosis, we were back at the doctor with what turned out to be a ruptured eardrum, which was probably caused from fluid leftover from … you guessed it: the flu! So, yeah, we are tired of the flu at our house.

In between the flu and the ruptured ear drum, my daughter had a swim meet. She wanted to go. I thought it was a terrible idea, but I think that providing opportunities for your kids to “fail safely” are invaluable to the growth and maturity process. Maybe we will expand on that idea in another blog.

Anyway, my daughter decided she wanted to swim in the meet after having the flu all week. Again, I thought this was a terrible idea but I kept my opinion to myself. She was determined. It was hard to watch. She swam her events, including the 100 IM and the 200 free. She was exhausted and slept almost all the way home … BUT the next day she said to me, “It might have been a better idea to let my body rest through the weekend.” Bingo! I could have tried to explain this to her, but I’m pretty sure this first-hand experience will stick with her a lot longer than a lecture about health and wellness from her mother. Ha!

Allowing your body the time it needs to rest and recover can be one of the most challenging aspects of athletic training. Athletes are tough and many of us think we can plow right through and not miss a single workout, but sometimes real strength (and maturity) means listening to your body and taking some time off.

Coming back from an injury or a sickness like the flu can be mentally taxing on a competitive athlete. While you’re on the couch – trying not to die – there is this sinking feeling that teammates and competitors are moving on without you. Plus, training is our passion! It’s depressing when you can’t get out and do what you love to do.

Coach Lisa had this to say about dealing with injuries: “It is important for an athlete to keep their mind clear and be strong enough, mentally, to make it through a temporary setback like an injury or sickness. For younger athletes, that first injury can be tough. It’s something they’ve never had to deal with. A positive, determined mindset is critical during the recovery process.”

Just because you are laid up on the couch, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything productive. There are still things you can be doing to prepare for the upcoming season.

  • Finalize your calendar. Even if you have your season planned out, it can be fun to sit down and look at it on a calendar. Look ahead and mark your peak weeks, recovery weeks, and race days.
  • Make a list of goals for the upcoming season. Remember that goals are not limited to race finishes. You can set training goals within each sport and then put together a plan to start working towards each goal.
  • Read articles about aspects of training that interest you: nutrition, strength training … or THE IMPORTANCE OF REST.
  • Read inspirational comeback stories or an athlete autobiography for motivation.

Appropriate rest and rehabilitation is just as important as your longest training day. When we don’t take the time to rest, we jeopardize all of the hours spent swimming, biking, and running. The next time an injury or illness has you down and out, think of that rest day (or week) as an integral part of your training plan: Grab a cozy blanket and some chicken soup and nail that workout!