One thing that separates good runners from great runners is each's approach to rest.
The good runner never actually rests. For the good runner, the "easy" days are still just a tad too hard to be classified as easy. As a result, the good runner simply stays good, and never becomes great.
The great runner, by contrast, treats rest as seriously as one would, say, a track workout. For it is only by pausing after a period of stress that one's body has the time to rebuild itself--and to do so in a way that makes one stronger, fitter, and faster.
I've always thought of myself as a runner who takes rest seriously. But frankly, it has been hard to do that on this trip, partly because I logistically don't have the time to rest, but also because I don't want to rest. Each day on the road, I encounter too many things that I want to do. And it's sometimes hard to resist doing them.
This weekend, I need to do whatever it takes to win that fight and rest. Less than 3 days from now, I'll be running the Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon--a 25-mile run that will take me from the North Rim down to the Colorado River and back up to the South Rim. The weather at the rim will be cold. At the bottom, it will be scorching. And then I'll have to climb roughly 5,000 feet back out of the canyon. To add to things, because I'm catching the last available transcanyon shuttle at 1:30 p.m., I expect I'll hit the trail no later than 5 a.m.
I've been doing my best the past few days. I've scaled back my runs, picking only 4-5 miles of trails per day, and hiking proportionally more than I normally do. Spending two days in Los Angeles with friends helped; spending a day in the San Jacinto mountains did not. Arriving in Joshua Tree National Park and stepping out into the baking desert heat helped return me to the driver's seat; seeing a bunch of rocks to climb did not. Today, in Zion, I'm doing a short and easy hike--Angel's Landing (it's a little crazy that I now consider a hike like that easy!). Tomorrow, I'm basically just seeing Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. Monday, I'll be camping at the North Rim, where I'll do a short run to preview what I'll be tackling early Tuesday. It's a struggle to rest, but I'm doing my damnedest to do it.
This battle to rest happens elsewhere, too. These days, it's too easy to get so wrapped up in one's pursuits that one forgets to rest. I've definitely had moments in my "regular" life when I've been pulled in many directions, unable to cut those commitments that need not actually be commitments. In the same way that great runners take rest seriously, we would all do better if we found ways to pause our oftentimes overly busy lives and do the same. Our bodies--and our minds--would appreciate it.