As I lounged on the couch, all I could think was: If I don’t do my hamstring exercises, they will be sosore when I start back up. And my quads … they’re going to kill me after I do a shooting session. At the end of my time in Russia I decided that I needed a break — both mentally and physically — from challenging myself in training, searching for playing opportunities, and pushing toward my goals. I knew that I needed it, but actually carrying through is a different story.
Since the time I began playing somewhat seriously (when I was 9 or 10), I have never given myself a break. In college, one spring season I had to sit out for two months with a stress fracture, but I swam vigorously, lifted weights and did a lot to insure that I could jump right back into playing the second I was cleared. Besides that time, I have maybe only gone for two or three days in a row without touching a soccer ball, and even during those times, I would feel eager to get back into it.
So, while time off sounds nice in theory, it’s never been something I’ve wanted. But now I need it. And this may be one of the few times in my career when I have the luxury to take it.
Immediately after my return from Europe, I began my “rest.” But while out on a run with my dad, after I had juggled and kicked around for about 45 minutes, it dawned on me that this was not rest. Yes, I had scaled back my regimen significantly, but I still felt pressure to do certain things to make sure I didn’t lose fitness, lose my touch, or miss out on strengthening exercises. This was defeating the purpose of my plan.
I was being motivated by habit and fear of regression, rather than by inspiration to progress. I am extremely driven and for years have been pushing my body to its limits and enduring a lot of emotional stress by setting goals, risking failure and making tough decisions to chase my dreams. But this year I’ve hit a point where I feel exhausted mentally. It got tiring to often coach myself, create my own training sessions, make difficult decisions regarding my career and face some big disappointments. I think that a break will help me to refresh and refocus so that I can be excited by my journey once again.
Now, I’m taking a few weeks of actual rest. I am not training. I am not searching for teams overseas. I am not setting goals or making plans. Yes, I still sometimes get up off the couch and do a few leg exercises because I’m pycho, and sometimes while I’m driving or laying in bed I feel that burning desire to be the absolute best at what I do, but I realize that this time “doing nothing” is what I need to bring me closer to where I want to be. I am fully assured that when I get back into the swing of things I will be revived, empowered and inspired to reach a new level.
These couple weeks away from the game (excluding the fútbol I watch on TV) haven’t been easy. At times it puts me in a bad mood and I have a feeling of worthlessness because I am missing the part of my life that so often has provided me with purpose. But, over all, I am enjoying being a normal person for a bit, and the fact that I can enjoy that just shows me how much I really needed this. As much as it goes against the grain of my personality, it’s nice to be lazy for this one time in my life … I could get used to this!