It’s the winter holidays even though winter just officially arrived on December 21st. What does that mean? It means that if you are attempting to follow a training program or trying to remain goal oriented and focused on a particular goal, that you may be challenged with the pop culture that is going on around you. Especially since pop culture knows nothing about climbing or what it takes to get things done in the sport.
I write this as I ate a little too much today and maybe the day before and probably tomorrow too. Why do I feel like I ate too much? Not because I am trying to avoid weight gain, but because my stomach feels much fuller than it normally does after meals. I still have been able to do my normal workout routine and even get in my trail running miles, but my gut feels full. As my body attempts to get used to the increase in food intake, I feel lethargic, weaker and my mind questions how long it will take to get back into the full swing of things (training).
The bigger question is how long should a break be from climbing? This question is constantly being asked and the answers will vary depending on who answers it for you. First of all, breaks are good, OK and necessary. Rest periods are when your body gets to rest and recover and also times for your motivation to be renewed. I personally don’t really enjoy the times when I choose a break or when I am forced to take a break, but I know that I need them so I do.
Personally, I thrive on routine and often feel the best when I am weeks into one. I know when I will peak, when I will feel low and how my body will respond to changes. It is pretty awesome really. But when the rest period comes, I often do not know how I will feel. I mean my back might be randomly tight or I will strain a muscle just playing with my kids or doing normal house chores. Standing on my feet for long periods (like when I am teaching at school or at the climbing gym) of time will make my back seize up and potentially lay me up if I am not doing my daily stretches. I find that I end up at the chiropractor or getting a deep massage during my rest periods.
So even though I basically feel bad, why are they necessary? Well, our bodies need to rest and “turn it down a notch” in order to catch up to all the work that we have been doing. Our minds need a break from the focus and will enjoy the time for learning new things and creating new brain pathways. Doing creative things during our rest down times allows us to gain new perspectives which assists us in solving problems on or off the rock.
How long is the right amount of time to rest? I would say that depends on you. Ultimately I would suggest that you are not really resting unless you take about 2 weeks off. I normally am taking about that long off 3 to 4 times a year. It is either because of family vacations, work or the completion of a project. I always come back rejuvenated and ready to take on the next bit of work towards some goal that serves no real purpose other than to give me the opportunity to try hard on the rock.
Take your rests and quit crabbing about it. The rest will do you good.
The last rest period was around Thanksgiving. Here my son and wife at the Turkey Trot.