Rest days?

One of the things I see with self coached athletes is they automatically pencil in a rest day once a week whether they need it or not.  I’m not against rest days, I’m just against the way a lot of athletes (not all) go about it.

There are a few problems with penciling in a rest day once a week.  Once you build your training up to a level that you are getting your recovery in through the volume, often an easy spin on the bike and or a swim session could be all you need and you could get far more out of this than you will ever get out of having a full day with no training.
Another problem these athletes fall into is they don’t calculate for life circumstances to dictate they will not be training.  Lets say you have every Monday off training, something happens in your life like a child is sick and needs a day off school and you need to also take Thursday off training as well.  Now this is two days of training you have missed instead of the one.
Apart from a few of my elite athletes I coach where if I don’t pencil in a rest day, they will simply not take one, I don’t normally issue out rest days unless the program I have created really needs one on a set day.  I do however aim to give the athlete a leg rest once or twice a week by just putting in a swim session and maybe a core strength session.
I have found this way to be the most successful way for most athletes simply because they know they can take a rest day when their body tells them and life circumstances will also give them a rest day. I will sometimes instruct them to take the rest of the day or tomorrow or a few day, etc from the feedback I receive from the coaching program we use at Train Smooth.
Having said all this, there are some tips to help speed up the recovery.
  • Sleep (king)
  • Naps (Queen) if you can aim for an hour nap, that is gold but even just 20 minutes with your eyes shut can have some benefits
  • Nutrition (prince) not only the quality of what you eat and drink can have a massive impact on how fast you recover, but also the timing of what, when and how plays a greater roll.
  • Compression socks (yes they really do work)
  • Raising your feet above your head (lye down and raise your feet for 10 minutes)
  • Coffee shop ride (find a coffee shop that is around 30 minutes and ride really easy to the shop, have a coffee and ride really easy back.  what ever gear you think you need, do one easier)
  •  Walk the dog – Go for a 30 minute walk, just enough to move some blood around
  • Foam roller, massage
There are hundreds of ways to speed the recovery process, these are just a few of the ones I recommend.
There are always exceptions to all rules and while I am mostly blogging about not needing to take a rest day once a week, with some athletes, they really need to take that day off each week.
  • Aging athletes – Athletes over the age fifty it may become a good option depending on strength, fitness, injuries, etc
  • Just starting – I find that newbies in the sport are subject to injuries a lot higher in the first eighteen months.  If you are really new to triathlon and have gone from hardly training to normal triathlon training, taking a day off per week for the first six months should be really considered.
  • Poor fitness, till you have built the volume up and are getting the recovery through the volume, a day off once a week will most likely be your best option.
  • Injury prone – While this is the excuse a lot of people use, with most it is just that, an excuse but there are some athletes who are injury prone and if you train correctly, a rest day should help keep your body together.
So what should I look at doing?
While I am happy to answer your questions you email me at – I feel this may be a coming question being asked.  Just a generic template to consider would be
Monday:  AM Swim/Core PM rest
Tuesday:  AM Swim – PM Bike and brick run
Wednesday:  AM Swim – PM Bike – core
Thursday: AM Run – PM Bike
Friday: AM Swim/core – PM rest
Saturday: AM Long bike and maybe a brick run PM rest
Sunday: AM Long run – PM maybe a afternoon swim
In this, your legs get two rest days.  While half the week you would be doing a morning and afternoon session, you will also get three to four afternoons for rest time.
You are more than welcome to email me with what you are currently doing, goals, available training times, etc and I can give you some feedback from a quick glance point of view.
Tim Egge
Train Smooth

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