Quiet time is better than active rest?

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I have read two very interesting books over the recent weeks, namely 'More fire' by Toby Tanser and 'Running with the Kenyans' by Adharanand Finn both were focused on the secret of the Kenyan running success. I could go on about a lot of interesting issues that were raised in these books, but one of the things that stood out for me was the amount of rest the elite Kenyan runners had during the day, in between runs, and after major events.

This is very unlike the cross training military regime that some of the British Athletes undergo in their training, where, after a run, they go straight to the pool for 70 lengths and then gym work after that!   This made me think about rest or a better term 'quiet time'.   This distinction is not just a play on terms but  a fundamental attitudinal change to 'rest'.

For a long time biologists who were studying the division of cells during the beginning of life could not understand the time lag between each cell division. On a cell level there did not seem much going on between each division cycle. Yet they made the important discovery that at the molecular level the 'quiet time' between division was where the re-ordering of DNA occurred.  This re-ordering of the next transition between two states was as vital as the division itself. Just because you could not measure it did not mean it had no value!

So, on a micro level it appears that a quiet time is required not only for replenishing energy supplies but also to align and direct DNA.  At the Macro level I have found over the years that a quiet time is needed by the brain to allow aligning up of physical and mental experiences.  How many times have you woken up with a realisation or an insightful thought?

ChiRunning, Yoga and other mindful practices make a distinction about allowing the sub conscious and conscious mind to 'yoke', align and respond.  This cannot happen in a state of mind that is receiving inputs from external sources creating stimuli that your brain needs to respond to.  Allowing your mind some quiet time gives the body a chance to make sense at a micro and macro level.

So next time you rest make sure it is a 'quiet time'.

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