Most athletes usually follow the motto that hard work is good, so working harder must be even better. We hear our teammates and coaches tell us to push ourselves, dig deeper and play harder. In most workouts we have to push past the point where we are too fatigued to keep going and work hard to finish the workout for the day. There is no secret to success: hard work day in and day out will help you improve and reach higher levels of ability.
The farther you push yourself, the better you will be, and this has always helped me in running. I know that if I run a little farther and a little faster each day that I will be a better runner. God is there to help me find more strength as I get into harder workouts and races throughout the season.
One thing that I have come to know, though, is that rest is as equally important to an athlete as the workout. While sleeping the body repairs the muscles that we work so hard to build, and what we eat after a workout is used to help us regain the energy back from our workouts. It is important to remember that the workout is not over when we finish our cool down or the reps that we had to do that day; the workout continues into how we recover both our bodies and our minds.
I have heard it said that one of the most restful things you can do is spend time with the Lord. I find this to be true time and time again. Nothing helps clear my head or motivates me like praying and reading God’s Word. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (NIV). We do not need a lot to find God or the peace that He can give us. When we come to Him seeking rest He helps us and gives us what we need.
On top of getting to practice every day, we also should have a good attitude and some excitement about the work that we have ahead of us. This gets increasingly harder to do as the season goes on, but it doesn’t have to be. When we spend time with God we remember to be grateful for the gifts that we have and excited about the chance to go work hard with our teammates.
So the next time you finish your run, time on the field or time in the fitness center, remember to rest your body and your mind. Finding a quiet time with God to thank Him for the abilities that we have as athletes is the best way to rest. We only need to come to God with an open heart, and He will fill us with what we need: true rest, a rest that helps us grow into the athletes that God wants us to be.