The Importance of Rest

The Importance of Rest

As I’ve been training and racing this year, I’ve started to get a better understanding of the cycle that athletes go through to prepare and recover from events; the hard weeks, taper and recovery time.  My training last year was so sporadic as I dealt with injury that I don’t think I got a great feel for how this cycle works. Having a year with almost no interruptions, thankfully, has provided the opportunity to get a better grasp of all the different stages and their purpose.

The week following Liberty was the longest rest period that I have had this year. Even after a hard race and equally difficult preparation, I didn’t realize how much I was ready for some extended recovery, both physically and mentally. Now extended recovery doesn’t mean a complete break from training and activity; it’s actually quite the oppTrain Runosite. One of the most important lessons I’ve been learning is how necessary it is to stay active after a hard event in order to keep the muscles loose, flush lactic acid and keep some of the soreness at bay. The efforts do, though, stay at a very low intensity and shorter duration.

My training volume that week dipped down to just 5 1/2 hours, and I had to opportunity to do some purely fun sessions. Thursday through the end of the week Alyssa scheduled Choice workouts, meaning I got into the driver’s seat and decided what to do. Being a Type A individual, I started planning my week almost immediately after hearing this. One of the things I was most looking forward was a trail run. The Des Moines area has an abundance of fantastic running options, one being a maze of single-track trails around Greenwood Park. This session helped me achieve the second goal of the week, mental rest. Leaving the watch at home and being immersed in the woods provided a much needed mental break from paying attention to specific intervals and time goals that are prevalent in normal training weeks. I quickly realized how easy it is to forget how mentally taxing this can be.

The third major benefit that I am realizing comes from rest is the renewed excitement to attack training again and for triathlon, in general. It’s all too easy to forget that I’m supposed to be having fun. I don’t make money doing this and there are no external pressures to train or race. Coming off the week of rest and unstructured activity I feel recharged and ready to reimmerse myself in heavy training and high volume. I’ve absorbed my last race, recovered and am set on putting in the work to improve heading into Racine 70.3 on July 20th.

Ironically, during my rest week I came across an article on the Triathlete magazine website that further emphasizing the need to take breaks: Consider Taking a Midseason Break. So push out those thoughts that your losing all your fitness by taking a couple days off or having an easy training week. Your body and mind will thank you, and you’ll come back with renewed zeal to push through those swim sprints, mind-numbing hours on the trainer and hill repeats.