I have trouble with rest when it comes to running. I would much rather just go out for a long run than sit at home resting. Furthermore, when I do go out for a run, the concept of a "recovery run"--i.e. a run completed at an easy pace as a follow up to a previous, much more difficult run--feels foreign to me. I would rather just go out and hammer every single time. My experience with multiple running overuse injuries should have knocked sense into me a long time ago, but until recently I have always come back from an injury with an ever greater desire to run hard and long on as many days as possible.
Rest is definitely part of my training schedule this time around and maybe that's the key--this idea that rest is actually an integral part of training rather than the absence of training.. Rest allows my body time to make adaptations in response to a training stimulus. One might even argue that rest is actually the part of the training cycle where I actually make meaningful progress towards greater fitness. For too long I've been unable to see rest as an active regenerative process that is integral to my overall growth as a runner. I think I've learned my lesson though--finally.
What I'm learning about rest as a runner brings up an interesting connection to my Seventh-day Adventist heritage. As implied by the name, Seventh-day Adventists worship on Saturday--the 7th day of the week rather than Sunday like most other Christian denominations. The difference doesn't stop there, however, as Seventh-day Adventists tend to place greater emphasis on Saturday as not only a day for worship but also a day of rest.
While growing up, I encountered this concept of Seventh-day rest, or Sabbath, in terms of things I could and couldn't do. My parents emphasized time together as a family in nature for instance but discouraged time with non-spiritual discussion topics, reading material, etc. Looking back, these parental guidelines actually created some amazingly special Saturday moments and memories, but in my kid brain, Sabbath was initially still about a special day when I couldn't do certain things.
Some time during my college years, however, I started choosing Sabbath observance for my own well-being. I began to recognize rest from studying, for instance, as an opportunity to recharge my brain and body so that I could come back and hit the books harder than I possibly could have by studying right through the weekend. The lessons I learned in college and the lessons I am learning now are thus really the same in the end: rest is a vitally active regenerative process that is integral to growth mentally, physically, or spiritually.