Who needs Rest days?
When chatting with experienced and beginner athletes, the topic of rest and what “rest” looks like in any given weekly schedule. Why don’t you have a rest day? Why it is important, and what does rest even look like? Does it mean sinking into your couch for the day or can you just go …. Climb a mountain, thoroughly clean your house, or do that local bike race?
There are two kinds of rest days that you will see in your training calendar, Active Rest Days, and Total Rest Days. If you are ever curious about where those workouts are in any given week just ask! We will be happy to let you know why the workout structure is the way it is at any given time. Both types of rest have their place and purpose in our training plans, they are both important.
Active Rest Days are workouts structured to prepare you for an important workout/race but still have your body and brain engaged in the process. In triathlon and running, it could show as a recovery/form-building swim, a low-intensity run, or easy spinning on the bike. if you find where you have an active recovery day, and anything triathlon or in your given sport is not what your body is telling you to do, change it up, go for an easy hike, go to a favorite yoga class, or even a brisk walk on your favorite trails. When you move your body purposefully, you promote faster recovery by improving blood flow and removing metabolic wastes. This helps to increase and speed up the delivery of healthy nutrients to your muscles. These types of workouts also help to maintain mobility and decrease soreness. I like to think of it as a warmup or cooldown, it is purposely put there to slow you down, and give your brain a rest but still move. This allows us to be warmed up and ready to conquer the next important building block in your training plan It promotes recovery without adding stress. It is not the workout to see if you can do your fastest 100 yards or run a hilly loop simply because you can. It is a time to rebuild a mindset, move muscle, and practice patience.
Total Rest Days are the days you need to avoid any structured physical activity and/or do anything intense. They are always easy to pick out in any program.
Seeing a total rest day on the calendar is hard for some athletes, our bodies and/or brains are conditioned to tell us to keep moving. The inner voice of our brains likes to tell us we have not done enough, we need to do more to be better, blah, blah, blah. (Remember from a previous blog- Our brains lie to us) If you listened to your body, you would hear it loud and clear, TAKE THE DAY.
Your body adapts and improves in response to training during periods of rest, not during the actual training sessions. Rest allows the body to absorb the training stimulus and make positive adaptations. Continuous training without adequate rest can lead to a plateau in performance or even overtraining syndrome, which can lead to decreased performance and increased risk of injury. Overtraining or not getting enough rest can lead to decreased performance, as the body is unable to perform at its best without proper recovery. Rest is crucial for long-term athletic development. It helps athletes avoid burnout, sustain a high level of performance over time, and extend their athletic careers.
Rest is crucial for a healthy immune system; it reduces your risk of illness and more unwanted days off. It helps maintain a healthy hormonal balance, which is important for performance and recovery, it improves cognitive function, including focus, decision-making, and reaction time, these are critical for sports performance
The Central Nervous System benefits greatly from complete rest, as it needs it to recharge and be ready for optimal performance. The CNS coordinates our muscle movements it gives our bodies time to recharge.
It presents a fabulous chance to change your routine up.
Once I changed my perspective on total recovery days, I began to really look forward to the couch on my schedule. That was the invitation to look after both my brain and body with a purposeful, mindful day off to enjoy something other than triathlon or running, I could focus on my mindset and mental and physical well-being. My perspective is that rest days are a gift and an invitation to take a very needed guilt-free break.
It is a great day to look forward to a movie while stretching and foam rolling, get in a gentle yoga class at your favorite studio or online, or do meditation. It gives us a chance to reconnect to your goals, “why” are you struggling to remember them? Have they changed? Are you feeling more tired than usual, if sleep is eluding you? Why? Have you been ignoring any nagging injuries? Rest is not a passive activity for athletes, it is an essential part of training. It allows our body to recover, repair, and then ultimately perform at its best.
Coach Kelly Hill,
Holistic Nutrition Practioner