On Not Dreading The Rest Day

BY: RIDGE COACH GAELEN ENGLER

After multiple back-to-back seasons guiding and coaching in the mountains, I feel that I may now have the authority to speak in favor of the rest day- A day I had avoided like the plague in the past. Simply put, a rest day is a ‘day-off’ from mountain sports. Over the years, I’ve noticed that injuries and infamous ‘tweaks’ begin to build up and hinder my performance after multiple back-to-back long days in the mountains.

 Gaelen coaching RIDGE students on the rock.

Gaelen coaching RIDGE students on the rock.

I am lucky to state with confidence that it was while coaching at RIDGE Mountain Academy last semester when I finally saw the light. I’ve learned to take care of my body in such a way that I feel strong, able, and my healthiest self every time I step foot in the mountains.

 Signs that you're ready for a rest day...

Signs that you're ready for a rest day...

It is all too easy to fall into the pattern of having a big day, stopping for a quick bite to eat, and then collapsing into bed to rest my weary bones.   When my body aches for days on end after long expeditions and back-to-back days, the answer is usually staring me in the face: I probably didn’t give my body the rest, fuel, and recovery it needed to perform at it’s highest level.  

For me, recovery days include: sufficient sleep, consuming healthy whole foods, and plenty of stretching or yoga. RIDGE student athletes actually invented a rest day sport: ‘The Tribathalon’! This RIDGE recovery activity features three activities: hot tub, steam room, sauna, repeat.  


GaElen finding excuses to not rest throughout the year:


The fact that RIDGE prioritizes recovery days for student athletes has helped me recognize the need for recovery in my own schedule. Adopting its practice as my own and integrating it into my schedule has helped to eliminate what had become daily aches and pains.  

I am proud to say that I am performing at my very best in the mountains, whether on a personal alpine climbing trip or working as a guide on Mt. Rainier.  I am now carving out time for morning yoga or stretching sessions, cooking wholesome and protein-rich meals, and recognizing that intense, extensive exercise needs to be followed by periods of rest and recovery.

I am thrilled to report that my days of endless tweaks, and strains- that I had accepted as normal- are over!

              Berry picking is an appropriate rest day activity!

             Berry picking is an appropriate rest day activity!