For many runners, the word “rest” may as well be the f-bomb. I don’t know if it’s our personality types (most runners I know are fairly Type-A) or just part of the overall running addiction – but suggesting a rest day to a runner is akin to asking them if they want to walk barefoot across hot coals (and truthfully, I think some would prefer the coals).
Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t sit still. Literally. I can’t watch TV or read a book unless I take periodic breaks to clean something or write an e-mail. Heck, I can’t walk from one room to another without trying to multi-task. It’s a blessing and a curse. However, last weekend I was sidelined like I never have been before (giving birth and hip surgery included)! I ended up having a dental abcess (read: really really REALLY bad infection) in my jaw. I have had an embarrassing amount of dental work done before (4 root canals prior to this as well as impacted wisdom teeth) and any discomfort I had with any of those procedures pales in comparison. It felt like having the flu (chills, sweats) with a broken jaw and migraine headache — all at the same time. My face swelled up to the size of a baseball. The worst part was that because I am nursing, the medication that I could take was extremely limited (it happened over the weekend and I had difficulty getting a straight answer from anyone about the safety of the prescriptions). Most of the weekend was spent on the floor curled up in a ball or sticking my face under scalding water. It wasn’t pretty. For two solid days I was in pure survival mode.
The problem came once I started feeling a little better (i.e. no longer dying). I started feeling guilty for not jumping right back into a routine, notwithstanding the fact that I was still in significant (but not completely incapacitating) pain. I initially took Monday off of work, but tried to go back Tuesday (thank goodness my employer knows how I am and just told me to go back home when they saw me). I ended up being off of work for 3 days in a row. I have never been off that long in my entire career for any reason other than surgery and giving birth.
Mentally, while I was home, the hardest part for me was forcing myself to sit. Not to worry about paying bills. Not to worry about making phone calls to straighten out insurance issues. Not to worry about making a grocery list. Not picking up toys left around the house. Just resting and regrouping. I had to keep reminding myself-it wasn’t just about me anymore. My health matters to Isabella too – and she deserves to have a healthy mom. Which meant that I needed to be serious about letting myself recover.
Too often, we get caught up in what needs to be done and just wear ourselves down further and further instead of just pausing that extra second. We feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. However, in the long run, rest is just as important (and sometimes even more important) than doing. Resting is a way to prevent overtaxing ourselves and is a necessary step back before we can keep pushing forward.