I’ve started training quite a few times in my life. Usually for various things and various ways. This latest attempt started at the beginning of October and so far, it seems to be sticking. The goal is to be able to run a 10K (two, really, one in May and the other in August) and to be able to do a set of unassisted pull-ups. These are both pretty tough goals, which is why I’m working out with a personal trainer.

I decided that I needed the help of a professional is that over this past summer when I tried to accomplish the 10K goal on my own, the only thing I managed to accomplish was injury to my legs. By the time I started talking to my trainer, I couldn’t walk for 10 minutes straight without pain. And I’m not talking about a hiking-pace either.

On the whole, the progress has been amazing. I’m already doing unassisted pull-ups, which I would have thought were years away. I’ve gotten rid of the pain in my legs. My trainer, Minna, started me off with sets and training designed specifically to increase my range of movement and support muscles for both my upper- and lower body.

To my surprise, one thing that Minna is really adamant about is what she calls rest weeks. If you’re reading this on the day it comes out, I’m just coming off the second one of mine. No running, no lifting, no exercise of any kind beyond light stretching and a little light walking. I trust her and it’s kind of funny to go “sorry, can’t exercise today, my trainer told me not to”. But even so, I was really surprised when I read the book Peak Performance (by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness). Turns out, there’s science in them thar breaks.

That’s actually also my biggest takeaway from the book, Peak Performance, as well. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff about pushing your limits and intentional practice. But Section 1, which is the largest, almost half of it is devoted to rest. Even later on in the book, the importance of rest gets touched on in virtually every chapter.

The authors present studies and anecdotes, in which the very top of the top performers are the people who prioritize various methods of rest. These range from the meditation and sleep, to rest weeks doing stuff that’s much, much lighter than your training or thought workers taking breaks to exercise in order to give their minds a rest.

Growth, apparently, does come from rest. But it only happens when you let both your body and your mind get the rest they need to grow. My plan for the rest of the year is to take at least one day a week completely off from mental work and keep doing the rest weeks as and when my trainer tells me to.

So go forth and rest my friends!