Its a much feared word "Rest day" but what if you knew it would improve your performance?
I have just started back with my squads and coaching after Xmas and New Year - What has been interesting over the previous months is just how many athletes (I do not train) come up to ask my advice about their programmes. The general conversations start with them telling me how much they fit into the week and how fatigued and demotivated they are, their weeks include large volumes of training, managing family, work and social commitments. I mean - 90% of the time I am amazed just how much people fit into a week and still function.
I say still function, but there seems to be a worrying trend that we need to do more and more within our lives and the idea of rest and recovery can often get over looked.
Over the years I have trained many athletes that do not see recovery days as part of the training process. They often fear that if they do not train they will not get fitter and by taking a rest day, its wasting valuable time. I am sure for many of us this sounds familiar....
So what does a rest day or recovery day actually look like - It often does not actually mean you have to sit about and do nothing, in fact you can still be active, but the intensity, focus and duration is just not there. A bike to the cafe with a friend, a swim in the open water or pool with no agenda, a stroll in the park with the kids. This all serves you well, not only to let your body, repair, get stronger but mentally give yourself a rest too.
The fear athletes have of rest, in itself is detrimental to their goals and ambitions. I am not talking about prolonged periods of time off, it is just if you are training hard, it is important to think of rest days and sleep as a vital part of your training too.
For a lot of athletes I start working with, its not about trying to get them to train - for the majority of people it is about educating people about the importance of recovery.
The fear people have of stopping training when they are sick, injured or fatigued often result in putting themselves at greater risk of long term health issues. The best advice I can give is listen to your body, most people know the difference between those days you just can not get motivated for a session and when it is long term fatigue or injury and know deep down it is best to rest. Your body is an expert at telling you to STOP....you may just have to listen to it.
So some simple steps....
1 - Make sure depending on your training programme you have rest / recovery days built in.
2 - Remember through out your season, you need to build your fitness, but this can only happen if you rest your system, sleep well and allow it to repair and recover.
3 - If you miss sessions through illness or injury, don't try and make them up in one day / week, so that you can say you have done the training.
4 - Recovery is about repair, sleeping well, mentally recovering and preparing your body for the next session or weeks ahead. Try not to miss these, as it will catch up with you in the end.
5 - If unsure, talk to your coach, as they will support you in managing your training.
Keep it simple, enjoy the recovery, know you are doing this to improve your performance and well being.
Enjoy 2017 - I look forward to hearing all about it.