Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Run Hard, Rest Hard



I heard a public radio piece about a couple who has done the Iditarod and many other dog sled races together. Asked about their strategy for long-haul races, they summed it up in four words: “Run hard, rest hard”. When they take breaks, they make sure to rest at least as many hours as they raced.

To adopt this motto for personal use, I’d convert it to read, “Run not-so-hard, rest hard.” But some harsh realities lately, including crises in my extended family and a daunting workload, have had me running much harder than I’d like. Last week, exhausted, I came down with an awful 48-hour bug. This was my body’s way of screaming that I needed rest. I took to bed and took care of myself for the first time in quite a long stretch.

This lifestyle of running hard is true for most of us, and one of the reasons the simplicity movement is so appealing. I know I’m not the only one to ask, "When does this crazy ride stop?” But I know that I have some control, at least some of the time, over slowing things down.

Most of us don’t rest as often or as long as we should. If we can’t get enough rest, we can at least make sure the rest we do get is of high quality. Dr. Frank Lipman’s recent book, Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again, is a sign of our times. I admire Dr. Lipman’s efforts, and want to buy the book, pronto! But I also know that, like the dog sledding couple that grabbed my attention, I need to make my own plan. Not an elaborate plan, but something simple to get me started on the right path.

“Resting hard” means incorporating those things that relax me, like walks, good books, and writing, into every day. It means clearing a space and time for rest, separating what really must get done today from those things that can wait. It means going beyond postponing stuff--how about crossing some things off the list entirely? Eventually, it may mean bigger changes, like reducing work hours.

One comfort of my personal dilemma is knowing that I am not alone in my “quest for rest”. Please add a comment—let me know what helps you “rest hard”!

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At 2/23/2009 3:11 AM, Anonymous Cecilia said...

Great article!!

Here's my recent realization for what helps me truly rest hard: After much blood work to try and figure out why I was having waves of dizziness and near fainting back in December, I finally just slept - 15 hours a day for four days and then 12 hours a day for another four, then day by day a little less until I got back to 8. I was physically exhausted and did not know it. I was literally spent. Of course, checking out from life is not something we can always do. I got lucky with my Christmas vacation schedule or I may have ended up in the hospital. What got me to that point? Stress and self-pressure to somehow do it all. I knew there was a lot on my plate so I tried to keep exercising and getting enough hours of sleep, but the one thing that I had slowly stopped doing this past fall was meditate. In order to really rest deeply I often find that it is my mind that is too loud and meditation has been the exercise that helps me quiet down the internal noise. Learning this practice while fully awake has helped to make it my fall-back when I'm having trouble sleeping and it has worked wonderfully.


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