Updated: Apr 21, 2022
“I decided to take a rest day today instead of doing my training session.” I hear this comment on occasion from athletes I coach. It's generally followed by something like, “I feel pretty guilty about skipping a training session.”
As a Coach, here’s what I’m going to tell you about skipping the training session. Do not feel guilty, bad, or sad that you CHOSE to rest instead of a training session. In my experience, very few athletes just opt out of a training session. They have really sound reasoning for the miss. Does work or life sometimes interfere? Absolutely. However, if it’s not work or life, here are the most common reasons that I hear:
Muscle fatigue - Commonly, I hear this about a run where the athlete has a tempo run or mile repeats and they report that they just can’t seem to get going so they stop the workout. Reports of muscle fatigue on the bike may include no ‘snap’ in the legs when increasing RPMs or climbing hills. Swimming comments include feeling like they’re swimming in place or that their splits started out slow and continued to decline.
Poor sleep - This is recorded in the Daily Vitals section of Final Surge and typically the athlete shows more than 2-3 nights of poor sleep, both quality and time. (Other metrics that can be tracked in the Daily Vitals, include stress level, sleep quality, heart rate variability, resting heart rate, weight, body fat and calories consumed). Any Daily Vitals tracked helps the Coach enormously when planning or adjusting future sessions.
Feeling weak or just ‘off’ - Many times this is decreased performance (overall) and it’s something the athlete struggles with for more than a couple of days.
If you decide to take a rest day, notify your coach. Put a note in your Final Surge log about why you’re taking an unplanned rest day. This note helps your coach rearrange your training schedule, if needed. It also allows them to keep track of you more accurately and provides data points for future training sessions and training weeks.
If you’re in a build cycle for your major race, plan on having a conversation with your coach to figure out how to get your key training in for the week, based on how you’re feeling.
Once you’ve made the decision to rest, slam the door shut on guilt. No one knows your body better than you and you’re taking care of your overall well-being.
Maria Netherland is a Northwest Florida-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Youth & Juniors Certified Coach as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Coach Maria loves working for athletes of all abilities, military athletes, and new triathletes as they pursue their goals. Maria is a veteran of the US Army and a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. She can be reached at email@example.com.