Rest and Recovery

Nov 10

Rest and Recovery

Last week I talked about the Art of Relaxation.

This has become a real “hot topic” for me lately, as I struggle to manage the stress in my life with all that is going on. Last week I was commissioned to write an article for a magazine that I’m involved with about this very topic, and so I thought I’d share the results here with you on my blog. Enjoy.

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Back in 2008 I had the hair-brained idea that I should walk a marathon. Understand that I have never been an athlete, and I don’t like to sweat. My brain must have been on vacation, but being who I am, I quickly got some people committed to walking with me, and they paid for their registration in the event right away – which forced me to follow through.

I was clueless about training. I discovered that Nike had this cool iPod system that would track your training, and even set up the daily training events. As I only had 4 months to train, I set up the “advanced” system. I didn’t understand half the instructions (what the heck is a fartlek?) so I just saw the distance assigned, and walked it like a sprint. 16 km, 24km, 32km, etc. I was well over 300km a month by the end, suffering from some serious sciatica and exhaustion. The day came, I walked the marathon (came in second to last), cried with relief, and then started researching.

Here’s what I learned. The body has an amazing system set up for dealing with stress – the adrenal glands, for the most part – whether the stress is physical, mental or emotional. Depending on what’s going on, these glands excrete precision amounts of different hormones to keep the body ticking along in spite of what we’re putting it through.

Unfortunately, if we don’t treat our bodies with respect, those adrenal glands run out of their own coping mechanisms, and the body starts to break down – kind of like our cars when we don’t keep the gas, oils, and lubricants topped up and clean. When we keep forcing our bodies through more stress than it should handle, without giving it the rest it needs to recover, we start to experience breakdown: fuzzy memory function, blood sugar problems, immune system breakdowns, reproductive and sexual health issues, increase in allergies, inflammation, and digestive issues, to name a few (any of these sound familiar?)

The most interesting thing I’ve discovered as I’ve pursued a healthier lifestyle with much healthier training practices (in preparation for marathon number 2!) is that the strengthening happens in the recovery phase, and if that’s not built into your training program, you’ll never reach your potential.

The adage “no pain, no gain” has no place in a true fitness program, and “less is more” is never more true than when you’re working towards endurance events. The recovery is where it’s at.

But you don’t need to train improperly for a marathon to experience this. Most of us live our marathon lives at a sprint pace. Normal everyday stresses – keeping up with domestic chores, juggling school schedules, workplace stresses, traffic jams, relationship conflicts, constant noise and activity around us, poor nutritional choices, and lack of the kind of exercise that heals instead of hurts – can all contribute to this.

Our society today takes great pride in the word “busy”. If we’re caught relaxing somewhere, we feel lazy and stupid. If people ask us how things are going, there seems to be a need to compete over who has the busiest schedule, the worst allergies, or the greatest challenges. Even church and faith can be stressful – churches always need more volunteers or money, we are challenged to spend more and more time in the Word and on our spiritual disciplines, and we feel guilty when we don’t step up to the plate. Stress is all around us, and we feel forced into keeping up with this ridiculous pace.

The Bible says “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion (or homeschool, work, illness – fill in the blank)? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28 The Message – brackets mine)

Take it from a recovering marathon burn-out. The pace we’re living at is not the pace God intended for us. Even God rested, and His call to us is to come away with Him – like two lovers walking hand in hand, just enjoying each other’s presence. That’s where relationship is built. That is where recovery happens. That is where we hear God’s still, small voice. That is where we find life. Abundant life. It’s in the resting, not in the doing.

In Exodus 14:14 God says “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Now, that’s a responsibility I’m happy to take on.

How about you?

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Who is Darlene Hull?
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* Any link with an asterisk (*) denotes an affiliate link or a source with some kind of payback for me.
The advice offered in this blog is based upon the author’s own experience. The author is not engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the readers. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions in this blog are not intended to replace a consultation with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. The author shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity that incurs any loss, damage, or injury caused directly, or indirectly from any information or suggestion in this Program.
* Any link with an asterisk (*) denotes an affiliate link or a source with some kind of payback for me.
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