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Active Recovery

Spiritual Training Cycle: Presence (wk. 9/13)

The journey of fitness is full of peaks and valleys. When you’re new to fitness, it probably feels more like all valleys. The doses of soreness as muscles begin to awaken. The rhythm of creating space for consistent workouts while still maintaining everything on your schedule. The mornings when you’re caught with your finger hovering over the snooze button trying to remind yourself it’s worth it. Because it’s worth it! Then things change. New muscle growth, new stamina, new strength, suddenly you’re on a fitness peak. But to maintain those peaks, rest becomes critical. And not just inactivity. As you grow as an athlete, you realize you need training days where movement is high, but intensity is low. To get the most out of fitness you must learn to use active recovery.

Active recovery is a gift to all athletes. Simply put, active recovery is activity you use to recover from intensity. The movements are low in impact but high in effectiveness. I first discovered the value of active recovery workouts in endurance sports, specifically training for Ironman. There were some Saturdays where my coach would program a 5-7 hour bike ride with hill repeats and other intervals built in. Man, my legs would be cooked after a big session like that. While I expected the next day off, coach had different plans. He had me back on the bike doing a one-hour easy spin around the neighborhood. That’s active recovery. It gave me a chance to flush a little bit of the soreness out of the legs, tune up the brain by giving it something easy to do, and keep my body moving. Active recovery is not just good for your body, it’s also good for your soul.

Active recovery is not just good for your body, it’s also good for your soul.

This month we’ve been studying the spiritual exercise of stillness. We define stillness as a quiet body, a slow mind, an open spirit, and a focus on God. Stillness is the absence of movement. This spiritual exercise has been used for thousands of years to create space to connect with God. Think of stillness as a spiritual pause button in your life. Sometimes after a really hard day or difficult week you need a different kind of stillness. You need a little spiritual active recovery.

For example, let’s say you had a tough week at work. You had some big meetings with extra travel dealing with some really difficult clients. On top of all that, you had a hard conversation with someone very close to you. The conversation turned personal, and it opened up some old wounds from the past. Come Saturday, it might feel like all you want to do is binge a new series on Hulu and be a statue on the couch. These are what I call the waiting moments. You’re waiting to see if the clients are going with you instead of the competition. You’re waiting to see if that tough conversation bears fruit. And to be honest, you’re probably waiting to see if you’re going to feel better. That’s the perfect time for some active spiritual recovery!

You could take a few minutes and listen to your favorite worship song or discover a new one. You could write a quick text to encourage a friend God put on your heart. You could read a few verses in the Bible or catch the verse of the day on your Bible App. These are the moments where we learn while waiting. See, your presence in life is essential to your progress in life. Including your moments of waiting. So don’t waste them. Don’t waste them believing God doesn’t care about you because He does. Don’t waste them worrying about work, God’s got you. Don’t waste them being bitter or resentful, God designed you for more. Don’t waste the waiting. God is working, even when you can’t see it. Maybe what you need is some spiritual active recovery.

Questions for Reflection:

Have you ever wasted a moment waiting on something or someone?

What does it look like to actively wait for God?

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