It’s winter, but winter on the Front Range in Colorado never truly feels like winter. You see, we’re spoiled here. It snows, but usually melts the next day. Ice doesn’t stay around long (ice storms are virtually unheard of here). The winter temperatures hover in the 40s usually.
This week it’s been cold — bitter cold. Negative degree temperatures at night. Single degree temperatures in the day.
So cold that picking up my CrossFit barbell in my insulated garage (useless in this cold of weather) gives me shudders. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to do anything. I just want to stay home with a cup of coffee (still waiting for Starbucks to figure out delivery), a cat on my lap, and a book in my hand.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE EXTREME COLD
The extreme cold prevents me from going over and above my normal exercise routine. I can’t go for an afternoon jog. Going to a HIIT workout class at night is out of the question. Spending prolonged periods in my garage is out of the question.
My life revolves around outdoor activities. Sitting around on a Friday night, asking the kids what they want to do this weekend, has led me to this conclusion. Everything I came up with (bike rides, hikes, swimming, visiting cool places) involved sunny weather. I like being outdoors, enjoying nature, and exploring. The extreme cold prevents all of this.
BENEFITS OF THE EXTREME COLD
I spend less money. Not leaving my home (despite the ubiquitous internet) means I spend less money.
I get valuable rest time I need. I am always at risk of overtraining since I find it hard to limit myself when it comes to exercising and CrossFit. Having a cold garage and icy roads keeps me from exercising. And I also get to sleep in, which I desperately need since I never get enough sleep.
I spend more time with my kids, hanging out doing nothing. This cannot be overemphasized, especially if you have teenagers. Getting them to talk about their days, their feelings, and their social interactions can be tough, but when you’re stuck at home on an ice, cold day, playing UNO or coloring, the conversations flows.
I have time to reflect. Most of our lives are pretty busy. Running kids around, work, play, exercise, and social functions in addition to household jobs such as cleaning, cooking, and sleeping, take up most of our days. When I’m not on-the-go, I can reflect more on where I’m heading in this world and where I want to go — and pivot if I need to.
I read more. This is probably a no-brainer but worth mentioning. When you’re stuck at home, more books that have been lying around the house get read.
As much as the extreme cold temperatures suck, take advantage of the downtime. Do those projects you’ve been meaning to do around the house. Spend time with your kids. Watch a movie together on Netflix or Amazon Prime. And rest up. Cause soon enough it will be go time once again!
Ever since Sunday, I’ve been hitting my CrossFit workouts hard. This week has been all about heavy weights, which I haven’t done for a while, especially after coming back from surgery. My shoulders are trashed. My calves are trashed. Squatting down in the simple things like doing laundry is difficult.
This morning I had a workout planned. I did not do it. I was too sore, and my body was crying out for rest. Here’s some tips on how to know when to rest from exercise, CrossFit workouts, running, or whatever sport you do.
Tips to Know When to Rest from Exercise
Your body is crying out to you. This one should be intuitive, but I often ignore this one. When everything is sore and everyday movements become a challenge, it’s time for a break.
Your exhausted at the end of the day. Exercise causes trauma to our bodies that our bodies need rest and sleep in order to recover from. If you’re not giving your body rest, then you are not maximizing your time under the barbell. When you’re tired all the time, it’s your body crying out to rest, so it can do its job and repair muscle fibers and tissues, so you can be stronger for your next CrossFit workout.
Your mental game is affected. Loss of enthusiasm, motivation, and desire is a sure sign you need a rest day. If you’re only half into your CrossFit workout and you’re just going through the movements without any heart, then you’re not doing yourself any good. Rest and hit your workouts hard in the upcoming days.
You have a tweak that won’t go away. If you exercise or do CrossFit a lot, odds are you’re familiar with tweaks — some muscle feels a bit off and when you move it, you notice it. Most of the time, these tweaks resolve themselves on their own in a week or so. However, if you have a perpetual tweak that won’t go away, it’s time for a break. Take at least one rest day and then rest that muscle as much as possible. Modify the CrossFit programming to suit your needs or design your own CrossFit programming.
As you can see, the key is listening to your body. Rest is crucial to progress in sports, but it’s so hard to take that day when our passion is our sport. Below are tips for rest days.
Tips for Rest Days
Active recovery. It’s hard for some of us to not do anything physical on rest days. Active recovery is a great way to let your muscles recover but appease your mind that is nagging at you to work out. I personally like to walk my dog on rest days from CrossFit or go swimming, which is no impact and gets all your built-up lactic acid in your muscles.
Distraction. Plan rest days during the week instead of on weekends, so you’re busy all day long. Plan rest days during the weekend if your weekend is packed, and you won’t have time to exercise.
Plan your CrossFit programming or workouts. Planning my next workouts satisfies the need deep within me to workout. It gives me something to look forward to when it’s time to hit my CrossFit workouts hard again.
Read a book. Alternate worlds are always good to enter when trying to NOT do something like exercise.
Get a massage. Let’s face it, we all need massages if we lift heavy weights. Schedule your massage during your rest day if possible to maximize the effects of rest on the body.
Go to bed early that day. Get extra sleep to afford your body the time it needs to repair muscle tissue and grow stronger.
We only get stronger when we rest. Adequate rest and nutrition play a big part in our muscle gains and, odd enough, our muscle loss.
Working out and lifting heavy weights, whether you do CrossFit or a different sport, is only half the equation. Keep in mind the harder part — eating right and resting — and you’ll see results quicker.
Doing two workouts in one day is never my preference but since I missed Monday’s (and it was a good one), I did two yesterday. Well, I strained my right leg because of it. And the result? A rest day today. I’m actually okay with that. The workout is not my favorite and I have a ton of stuff I need to get done this morning instead of going to the gym. The strength I can do by myself at a later time.