There is nothing easy about the rest day

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Running-low-resAll triathletes (or those training multiple times a day) crave an extra moment for rest, and we have many triggers… It may be the 4:45am alarm for swimming, the picnic you see on your Sunday run or the Instagram post from that beachside villa in Bali. To tame these cravings, we reassure ourselves that we need to be mentally strong and more committed to fulfilling our multisport goals. This means taking on more training, more information and of course more gadgets…

The theory of this is bullet proof… “The more I do, the more I can do and the better I will be”. Triathlon becomes about squeezing every last second out of the day and finding ways to compromise “the rest our of life” to accommodate the data we want to see on Strava.

As a brand, triathletes are highly motivated, passionate and goal driven. We love to be healthy, to keep active and will endure anything to be proud of ourselves. Commonly, this leaves no room in the plan for a complete day off… “You’re kidding! Do nothing. I’ll loose my fitness”…The Rest Day is a pivotal part of your program, and your coach includes it for a reason! You may not get one for a week, or even a month, but when you do, make it your best session! The body needs time to process your hard work and cannot always do it in an afternoon. Mentally you need to be hungry to start your next session. When the time comes to “work”, you need to fire…

With only seven days in the week and three sports (plus that elephant in the room – our core exercises) requiring constant attention, it is hard to balance a program week in week out to be “consistent”. Throw in a full time job, a family and an appetite as wide as Woolworths, were not exactly cueing up to watch paint dry! Therefore, we “take a few risks”. Okay we cheat…

The recovery swim becomes a technique session and has a little main set on the end, just to test the adjustments we’ve made. Then we swim another 400m with a pull buoy to round it up to an even 4km. “I feel alright now, that was good… Well worth it”!

Traffic was rough and now we’re tired! We still have to run so we’ll just go easy! We start to feel better once we get going and decide to pick up the pace a bit. It is important to finish the loop quicker than last week, otherwise we’re getting worse, so we haul the last 3km and out-split the podium from the Gatorade Race on the weekend. “Great session”!

And lets not even talk about the cyclist just up ahead… “Once we catch up and make the pass we’ll start going easy. They’re not even wearing a matching kit”!

All these scenarios have played out a thousand times over. No matter how convincing our inner voice, it is a mistake to make an easy session hard and play “catch up” on your rest day. If your constantly turning up to training with a defensive mindset to “just go easy”, you may need to review your program and make some changes. Absolutely, easy training makes up a large part of an endurance program. However if the picture looks grey (i.e. The Grey Zone- not easy, not fast) and if we only have one gear, race day dreams will be just that…

You might say “It is all well and good for some, but I have to”… Well, what you have to do is plan ahead. Work with your coach/family to schedule rest at a time when you can afford it. Don’t spend the day working in the garden, or driving around town… Switch off properly and give yourself a chance to resume the program fresher and stronger! So the next time you have a rest day, see how well you can do it. Watch a movie, or watch three! Sit still for an hour. Or just fall asleep…

Mitch Kibby
Triathlon Coach | Professional Triathlete

If you would like to contact or ask Mitch a question please email him at mitch@cfracing.com.au. Click here to view Mitch’s personal website http://www.mitchkibby.com/

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