This week is all about recovery for me. If there is one thing I have learned about endurance training (or any training for that matter) is how important recovery and rest are in the training program. After a grueling race like Wildflower, your body is deprived of fuel, breaks down muscle tissue and is depleted. The worse thing you can do for your body is get right back into training the following week. Research as shown that it can take 7-15 days to fully recover from a 1/2 Ironman or higher event. So if you go back into training on Monday you have no chance to fully recover and heal from the race. It will be detrimental to your training and your performance. Plus your mind insists on a break from structured training. The path you took to complete your big race is constant training, logging workouts, eating healthy and time consuming. Taking the week after a race and using it to jumpstart your body and engine is crucial.
Endurance athletes are very disciplined. They eat healthy and nutritious food, wake up at sunrise for workouts, go to bed early to get proper sleep, sacrifice family and social time for training and budget their finances around their triathlon lifestyle. But you ask them to take a day off and it is a difficult task.
After a big race and training block, I feel it is mandatory to take that following week off from structured training. DO not write down any workouts. If you workout, make it fun and easy. Take a few extra days off during the week and splurge on some good foods. You know that once you are back on the training wagon that you will be disciplined to train, eat healthy and accomplish your goals. But if you burnout or get injured then you will get frustrated and lose focus.
Remember overtraining leads to injury. Undertraining doesn't. As a normal working person, training for the sport of triathlon is difficult. We do not get the ammenities a professional gets (ice baths, massages, manual therapy, open schedule). When you feel you need a day off, you must take it! Have the discilpine to rest the mind and the body so you can regenerate for the upcoming workouts.
So the moral of the story is be on the lookout for overtraining symptoms. You might not get injured right away. It could be 8 weeks down the road from the things you are doing now. Start a workout log so you know exactly what you are doing and you can look back and assess your training. When you have constant fatigue, nagging/overuse injuries, inconsistent sleep, unusual muscle soreness, lack of motivation to train or your performance is declining - Take a break. You will appreciate it when you show up to race.
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