Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Importance of Rest

For anyone who knows me, you know that I don't sit still very well.  I am my mother's daughter, and this means that I won't rest until I've finished doing all that needs to be done for me to feel like it's okay to sit down and rest.

About a year ago, I started a class at University United Methodist Church, where my husband is an associate pastor.  The wonderful woman leading the class, Lisa, had brought several small pieces of pottery for the class to select from.  Each piece had a design on one side and a word on the other.  I had a hard time picking between the rectangular piece that had a blue flower on it and the round piece that had a very tiny labyrinth pictured on it.  So, I picked the flower first; the word on the other side was "rest."  After class had started, I mentioned that I had a hard time choosing; Lisa asked which other one I wanted.  I told her the labyrinth.  She told me I could have that one, too.  I picked it up and looked on the other side.  The word was "rest."

I realized that God was trying to tell me something!  I know that resting is a very difficult thing for me.  Even a couple of months ago, I sustained a foot injury because of overtraining.  It healed, or so I thought.  I began training, again, for the 10K that we were to run just before Easter Day; all was well until I played a fierce game of kickball with the youth at my church.  I reinjured the foot only weeks before the race.  I was devastated and disappointed.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to run the 10K. 

I researched all of the things that could possibly be wrong with my foot: stress fracture, plantar faciitis, tendonitis.  I almost got an x-ray... until I realized that the ONLY thing that would actually heal my foot was rest.  All roads, all websites, all doctors pointed to rest.  The best thing for my foot at the time was to stay off of it.  Before all of this happened, I had become addicted to running.  I wasn't terribly fast and I wasn't about to be a competitor for the top 500 of the Crescent City Classic 10K; but I had fallen in love with running. (Sidebar: In 2nd grade, I was on a soccer team for one season.  I quit because after every practice, I would come home crying because the coach made us run around the field.  I used to hate running.)

The repetitive motion had become a kind of physical meditation for me.  Again, I don't sit still very well, so running and praying simultaneously was something that was very soothing and peaceful for me.  When I realized (and finally accepted the fact) that I would have to stop running for a while, in order to let myself heal, I was very sad.

But I gave in to the rest.  I still walked the dogs and tried to exercise in other ways.  Jared and I still went bowling every Friday that we could, and I was attending a regular yoga class here at the church.  But I felt a loss.  I knew that I was missing out on the time I took five days a week to run; I was missing the heart rate increase- the cardio training; I was missing the time with my husband.  And I was missing that meditation time that I had when I was running.

I felt like a bit of a moron through all of this, though.  All the advice, websites, and doctors had also said that injuries like a stress fracture or tendonitis (which is what I think I have) are due to overtraining- doing too much too fast too often... In other words, not resting enough.

Yesterday, during our Wednesday morning 4 miles, I began to feel a shin splint coming on in my right shin, the same area where the tendonitis came on the last time.  It was about a mile and a half in to the run; and I knew that if I continued at the pace I was going, I would completely reinjure my foot and have to take weeks off.  Instead, I walked for about 6 minutes.  When I picked my pace up after the walking, I jogged more slowly than I had been before.  I could still feel my foot aching a bit, but not as bad as before.

The slower pace allowed me to finish my 4 miles at a jog, which is what my goal was.  It allowed me to realize, also, that if I give myself the rest I need along the way, I won't devastate myself by injuring myself.  And today, my foot feels good.  Today is a rest day in our running schedule; and tomorrow we won't run until the afternoon.  This means that I will have a full 48 hours of rest before running again.

I am not sure that I will ever really love resting the way that I love accomplishing things.  But I do know that if I don't rest, I am only doing myself damage.  Those two small pieces of pottery I mentioned earlier now sit in my office, on top of my credenza, where my Book of Common Prayer and journal also sit.  I am reminded that not only is rest good, but that God wants me to rest; God rested on the 7th day, for a whole day.  I should follow God's example and take some time for rest.

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