As a coach, I am a big proponent of taking adequate rest days. For some people, this means taking an entire day or days off. For others, it means a short duration, low intensity workout. I have found that finding the correct ratio of workouts to rest is really dependent on the individual, their endurance base and their injury history.
But regardless of what my clients' schedules have laid out for them, my number one goal is ALWAYS to get them to the start line, injury-free, so that they have the opportunity to reach their goals on race day, whether it be to PR or to finish smiling.
As an athlete, I am less than successful at taking adequate rest days. I've been known to push the pace during recovery runs and I may have skipped a rest day or two. I'll be honest. I suffer from "more is better" mentality. I always have and fortunately, it has yet to come back to bite me.
I know that having this mentality when it comes to endurance training is 100% wrong. I know that in most cases, the best athletes (best being subjective, of course) do the least amount of training that will produce the largest amount of gains. This does not mean that they skip workouts or cut things short. Instead, they fine tune their workload to produce the biggest results. They push themselves hard enough to make strength, speed and endurance gains, but not so hard that they break. And perhaps most importantly, they find the balance of workouts and rest that helps them excel.
I am trying to find that balance.
Over the weekend, I had my longest ride to date (45 miles) and my fastest 12 miler since October (1:47:37). It wore me out. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep. I know I need to recover. And so does my training plan. This week marks the end of Build Phase I and the first of two active recovery weeks (the next one is in five weeks).
I've been dreading this week since I first saw my plan.
I mean, an active recovery week seems like pure torture to an endurance-aholic like myself. Three full rest days, one strength day, and an hour of each discipline seems like nothing. It's a third of my normal volume.
But, as hard as it may be, I am going to do it. If nothing else, it will be a test of my mental strength. And at least I'll have fresh legs for what looks like a soul-crushing week when Build Phase II starts next Monday. Wish me luck ...