I have a running list of topics that I’d like to eventually write about here. Earlier this year, I was inspired by something one of my favorite Peloton Tread instructors, Marcel Dinkins, said during a class, so I jotted it down. She said that resting in between sets of hard work (like sprints or long intervals) is not only recovery from the effort you just did, but also preparation for your next effort.

It makes so much sense. I’ve written before about how I run intervals, and how the one-minute walk break allows my body (and mind) to recover from the four-minute run I just did, and it makes it possible for me to do it all over again. (In Marcel’s classes, you sometimes run—really hard—for one minute and walk for four.)

I added this wisdom to my list of blog topics because it applies to everything we do—not just running. But too often, we ignore rest in an attempt to circumvent any decrease in speed or progress that would occur as a result of taking a break. But it’s actually detrimental not to rest. 

Daniel Pink recently shared an article on his LinkedIn feed about a study that observed young adults practicing typing with their non-dominant hand. During breaks between practice sessions, “rather than being idle, the brain was replaying the practice session over and over at an astonishingly high rate of speed.” This process of replaying, processing, compressing, and consolidating information is called “neural replay,” and it can only happen if you take a break.

I think that’s probably a big reason why breakthroughs don’t usually happen at work, or at least while you’re working on the thing that needs to be broken through. They happen when you’re showering, working on a jigsaw puzzle or a paint-by-numbers, on a walk, or doing anything else.

So, as we wrap 2022, I encourage you to take a break; a long, relaxing, and rejuvenating one that allows your brain and body to recover from the last year and prepare for the next one. Working through it won’t do you any favors.

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