Updated: Apr 21, 2022
How many of you squeezed your eyes shut and yelled “Nooooooooo!!!!!” when you saw rest and recovery was up for discussion? Well, it’s not up for discussion, they both need to happen. In my years of racing and coaching, I’ve found there are two types of athletes when it comes to this topic:
Athletes that have an extreme dislike for rest and recovery, for whatever reason.
Athletes that live for rest and recovery days.
I’ve heard comments like:
“Do I really need two rest days this week?”
“My son asked me this morning if I really had the day off. He asked if you could put some training in my plan because I’m more pleasant after I exercise.”
“Oh my gosh, I’ve never been so happy to get to my recovery week.”
“I’ve been training all week for this day off!”
“I dread recovery time because I always get sick.”
“What if I lose all my fitness gains during a recovery week.”
As an athlete, you may experience things like:
FOMO – Fear of missing out on training (don’t worry, you’re not!). I’m a triathlete – just not today because I’m resting.
Thrown off your routine – For example, what if you’re an early trainer? You get up, get your body moving and head out on a swim/bike/run. But it’s a rest/recovery day! The routine is not the same as the other days.
Missing out on the endorphin rush that training often provides.
Glee that you have that day to do other things – tackle a pile of paperwork or your training laundry from the week before.
Look forward to your next day of training because your body feels refreshed and ready to train!
You may have said any or all these statements. Here’s what it comes down to: rest and recovery help our bodies absorb the training we’ve done and recharge for the next round of training. Without it, you run the risk of illness, injury and overtraining.
There are things you can do to make rest and recovery time much more pleasant if you don’t like complete rest days and prefer a recovery day. To keep the training in the recovery zone (Zone 1), I like to add people and pets to the mix.
Some recovery day training could be:
Super easy swim: Zone 1 for 20-30 minutes.
Bike: Glass crank ride (see Coach Mark’s article from July 15 – ride #7). Please note that this IS a session to get you stronger and faster!
Run or walk: Zone 1 for 20-30 minutes. Take along your favorite pet (unless they run like a greyhound), and/or a friend.
Hike: Little hills or lots of flats, again Zone 1 for 20-30 minutes. Take your kids along with you. It forces you to slow down.
Yoga: Restorative or Yin will help mellow you out and stretch – these are great options for the competitive yogis out there!
Some athletes prefer complete rest – no exercise at all on their off days. Great things to do on your complete rest days are:
Get a massage
Go to your Chiropractor
Take a nap
And ok, ok, binge watch a show on your favorite streaming service
Regardless of how you view rest and recovery, talk to your Coach about what is expected on those days. They may put one or the other in or they may give you the choice. Remember, their plan for you is based on your training feedback and training results. And if you see ‘rest’, then the Coach saw results in your training plan that indicate that you need rest!
Make some plans for your rest/recovery day that will allow you to enjoy that day off from training!