Give it a Rest

“Hey, can one of you help me wrap this ice pack around my groin?”

That’s me to my coworkers, periodically, when I’ve run too many miles in old sneakers, failed to stretch after multiple consecutive workouts, or just plan overdid it. It’s only when I see the surprise and embarrassment written on their faces that I realize I have a problem.

When this happens, I make an effort to avoid getting hit with a sexual harassment charge and force myself to take an extra rest day or two. Because I’m training for several lengthy races (the 100 On 100 Relay this weekend and the Green Mountain Marathon in October), I’ve returned to the same semi-strict workout regimen I had last spring in preparation for my first marathon. That means running five days a week, routinely increasing my mileage, and cross-training with activities like biking, weight-lifting, and yoga. On days when my body hurts, I take it easy and remind myself that making an effort to recover will help me improve. Even so, I jump up from the couch about once every five minutes to look longingly at my empty sneakers and gaze jealously at the joggers passing by on the street outside my window. It’s not that I don’t have interests and hobbies beyond running, but the guilt of doing these things when I feel like I’m supposed to be training feels somehow disloyal. (I know, I know. I already said I have a problem.)

One day recently, while I was cooking with a friend and trying to ignore the fact that I’d skipped a training run, she read my mind:

“It’s not like you’re the only person who needs to take time off from your creepy obsession with working out. Why don’t you look up what other athletes do on their rest days?”

Brilliant! In addition to providing an effective distraction from thinking about running for the remainder of the day, I discovered a goldmine of interesting facts about how celebrity athletes spend their time off. If you think you’re at risk of overtraining or you’re struggling with a sports addiction, you might find this useful. Read on!

1. Boxer Mike Tyson owns and races pigeons.
2. At one point, retired basketball player Shaquille O’Neil owned a “Special Deputy” badge to help out with sheriff operations—but it got pulled after he said the n-word on camera.
3. This is purely conjecture, but I’m pretty sure that soccer star David Beckham is into shopping. I mean, the man is married to Posh Spice and wears designer jeans, right?
4. Race car driver Jeff Gordon plays video games.
5. Former figure skater Tonya Harding is a competitive bodybuilder. This may not seem like much in the way of a “rest activity,” but would you tell her that to her face?

6. Wrestler Hulk Hogan owned and ran a fast-food pasta joint, PastaMania, in the Mall of America in the mid 1990s.
7. Swimmer Ryan Lochte has one-night stands, says his mother (she meant dates …).
8. Tennis sensation Serena Williams enjoys the poetry of Maya Angelou.
9. Beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May Treanor cleans her house.
10. Runner Florence “Flo-Jo” Joyner wore bodysuits and practiced artwork on her six-inch nails.

Now I have a world of reasons not to feel bad about slacking off on my training schedule. Later, folks. I’ve got to go figure out how to tend to my pigeons without messing up my fancy nailpolish!

Mari Zagarins

When Mari isn't running, biking, hiking, or jumping-jacking in and around her home in Montpelier, she is practicing her facial expressions in the mirror and contemplating whether she should learn to swim.