The Guilt Series: Off Days

What is Guilt?

Guilt (noun): feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy. 

Lately guilt has been cramping my style. It’s been stomping on my training schedule, specifically rest days. It charges in every time I try to take a rest day, which leads to me not taking time off…even when it’s absolutely needed.

The crazy person that I am (just a tad bit obsessive/controlling with some things…like my training), I created a calendar in Excel. The purpose of this was to help me stay organized and on track during prep for my competitions in April. It has my lifting splits, my “off days”, and the amount/type of cardio done each day. I continued to use it when I transitioned into my off-season and may use it a little to strictly still.

Off Days…they seem to be few and far between as of late. It’s been extremely hard for me to take a day off from the gym. Whether I want to be there to sweat out some stress or I’m punishing myself for some reason (like eating a pint of ice cream the night before), I tend to feel extremely guilty when I take a day away from the gym. When I say a day off, I mean doing NOTHING, no weights, no cardio, just sit on my ass for the day.

Currently I am working with an 8 day training split:

Lift + Cardio || Lift + Cardio || Lift || Active Recovery || Lift + Cardio || Conditioning || Lift || OFF

Last week, I was supposed to have a rest day, it was written in my calendar. But on that day, I found myself walking into the gym, finding my way to the treadmills and proceeding to do 30 minutes of cardio and then some mobility work. The mobility work was great, the cardio absolutely not necessary. I just wanted to be in the gym. I knew this was a lose/lose situation for me…at least in my mind it was that way. If I didn’t go to the gym and do at least SOMETHING, I was going to be upset, feel guilty, feel like I wasn’t pushing hard enough towards my goals, the list goes on. At the same time I knew that I wasn’t giving my body the rest that it absolutely needed…cue more guilt.

While strolling along on the treadmill, I was listening to an episode from the podcast Chasing Excellence, and rest days were brought up, specifically if they’re necessary. The response that Ben gave was: take them if you need them, but they’re not required. The best thing to do is to listen to your body.

This made me feel slightly better when it came to feeling guilty about not taking a rest day, but I know I don’t listen to my body as much as I should. I know and understand that there are days that it’s necessary to take days off; the body needs to recover, the mind needs a break, there is a life to be lived outside of the gym, etc. But sometimes it is just hard to break that attachment.  

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that it is okay.
It’s okay to train every day. Just fuel your mind and body properly to avoid injury/becoming rundown.
It’s okay to take a day or 2 off or even a week!  Some times it’s needed for many reasons, allow yourself that and try not to beat yourself up over it.

Ask yourself why you feel guilty… when you take a day off / if you don’t take a day off…
find the root of it, dig a bit deeper, and accept whatever it may be.

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