One day. That’s all student athletes have to work with when it comes to resting and recharging. After dedicating a whopping 20 hours of the week to practices, games, and workouts, there is just one day that remains … a day of rest. But how do athletes make the most of this day? How do they spend this rare time off the field? I talked to Shepherd University student athletes to find out.
First I spoke with someone who’s had four years to perfect her routine. Madison is a senior on the women’s soccer team and offered some helpful insight into the behind the scenes day in the life of a restful Ram (AKA a Shepherd University athlete on a rest day). Madison explained that Sunday is their one day and it starts with an opportunity to get some coveted extra sleep. She said, “I usually wake up at 10:30 a.m. Then I go upstairs to wake up my roommates.”
She added that their favorite rest day tradition and special treat is going to “get some Starbucks or maybe even Chipotle, and then we watch football all afternoon and relax.” For any other person, this may seem like an ordinary Sunday, however, for student athletes like Madison, they do not always have the time during the week to enjoy the simple pleasures of a Starbucks or Chipotle run.
Next I paid a visit to the women’s basketball team to hear their perspective on rest days away from the court. Funny enough, I spoke to another athlete named Madison; this one a junior, who spends her off days allowing her body to recover and properly prepare for her next week of practices.
She explained, “On my off days I sometimes go on a recovery run, to keep my muscles from getting tight for the next day of practice. I also tend to roll out and stretch at least twice.” There’s no doubt that sports are physically demanding, so it is of the utmost importance that athletes take good care of their bodies. My key takeaway from Madison was to keep activity levels up on rest days, but decrease the intensity of the recovery exercise to help prevent injury and reduce sore muscles.
Then I went out to the golf course to hear the perspective from a new student athlete, a freshman golfer named Joey. He explained that on his rest day, he often will go home and spend the day with his family. “I like to hang out with my family, my girlfriend, or my roommates,” Joey said, “I usually go home on the weekends and will occasionally hang out with my cousins.” My key takeaway from Joey was that a rest day spent with family is a rest day well spent.
To conclude my quest for answers about the whereabouts of our restful Rams, I went to the women’s lacrosse team to speak with one of their senior players. Molly offered a different perspective on the rest day, explaining how she values her job and prioritizes saving money for her future.
She said, “I work 9 to 2, and if I don’t have work then maybe I’ll catch up on homework.” My key takeaway from Molly is that you have to put in the work on the field and off the field, and while I sure hope Molly gets some rest at some point on her one day off, I respect her commitment and priorities.
Regardless of the sport, each Shepherd University athlete takes on the daunting task of juggling their academic, athletic, and personal/social schedules, and that is no easy task. That one day of rest is critical for recharging physically and mentally, whether that means going to Starbucks or Chipotle, watching football, hanging out with family and friends, going on a recovery run, stretching or rolling out, or even working. So however you choose to spend your rest day, be like a restful Ram, take advantage of the day, and do something you enjoy.