This month I took a two week complete break from all exercise. This was the first time in years that I’ve taken such a long break from working out – and I didn’t feel guilty or worry about how it would impact my fitness at all . In fact, this was a break that I had been planning to take for a few months. I headed abroad to Cyprus and spent the two weeks sleeping, sunbathing and exploring parts of the island. Apart from some very gentle swimming and a little walking, I did almost no exercise.
There were many reasons why I choose to take such a long break from all forms of fitness. The main reason was because prior to my holiday I had been feeling completely exhausted and overwhelmed; I felt that taking a break from exercise and getting lots of rest would help me to feel better. While away I would sometimes sleep for 10-12 hours a night and that was after doing practically nothing during the day!
Another reason why I decided I needed a rest from all types of workouts was for my mental wellbeing. While I’m a strong advocate that regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle in general is fantastic for improving mental wellbeing, I also think it can be easy to go too far and that many of us who like to compete in races and competitions can put too much unnecessary pressure on ourselves to achieve PBs. I’ve learnt as I’ve gotten older and done countless races and competitions that to be truly healthy isn’t just about body size, weight, fitness and strength but also about calmness, peace of mind and feeling content with your life.
While away I didn’t miss exercising at all. I enjoyed getting lots of rest and feeling relaxed. Instead of worrying about getting up early to go for a run I let myself lie-in for as long as I needed and I ate whatever I wanted. By the time the two weeks were over I felt totally rested, refreshed and rejuvenated. I felt more positive and I was looking forward to all the fitness challenges I have planned for the rest of the year.
This week back to training has been difficult. I haven’t felt as fit as I normally do and my whole body has ached for most of the week. But despite this I believe that the break has done me more long term good than short term harm.
If you are going on holiday this summer I would recommend that you leave your running shoes and gym gear at home and use it as an opportunity to get some rest and recovery time!