Break it down, then build it back up.
Most athletes can agree, taking a purposeful rest day can be tough, not physically of course, but mentally. It can feel at times that you are letting valuable training time slip away along with your hard earned fitness.
As I taper for my first Half-Ironman race (this Sunday), I can’t help but feel that rest days on Thursday and Friday will negatively effect my performance. Alas, I must resist the urge to grab my helmet, and hit the road for one last long ride.
It is no secret that your body requires rest to repair from the stress applied to it by training. You literaly tear your muscles while swimming, biking, and running; in the following 24-48 hours, your body repairs the damage. If your rest period is not long enough, then your body will suffer accordingly.
There are many benefits of rest days, and I have found scheduled rest days even more benefical not only for myself, but for the girls as well. Here is my top reasons why rest days are as important, maybe more important, than training days.
Family Activity – With scheduled rest days, mine are Thursday and Sunday, we as a family have the ability to plan ahead. It can be a trip to an amusment park, the zoo, or a BBQ in the park; doesn’t really matter, but we can schedule time together without having to find a way to work around my training.
Rest Physically – It feels great to kick my feet up on the couch and turn on a rerun of ‘insert your favorite show here’. My legs always thank me for taking a day off from the intensity of my current training plan.
Rest Mentally – Your body needs a break, but so does your mind. Without having to prepare for my next training sesstion, I can use the evening to recharge mentally. This usually consists of a cup of tea on the deck with my wife.
Repair your Gear – My Cervelo is always faster after a good cleaning, I can’t explain why. When trying to squeeze training into my life, a couple of things get pushed to the back burner. Regular maintenace is one of them. Take the time to take care of your gear, and it will take care of you on future training sessions.
Variety – I love Triathlon, but sometimes the monotony can beceome a little too much. I like to take my rest days to go for a hike, family bike ride, play ball, or do something other than my regular training activities. I come back on Monday ready to hit the pool again, knowing that I have a break coming in 4 days.
So kick back, leave the bike in the garage, and spend a day next weekend with your family.
Question: How do you schedule your rest days? Do you have a fixed day, or do you take one when needed?