Monday, June 19, 2017

Take Rest Before You Need Rest

Joe Grey wins his 4th
consecutive MWRR.
Photo: Joe Viger Photography
"Take rest; a field that has rested yields a beautiful crop."  -Ovid

Athletes are taught that effort yields results.  And while it is most certainly sound physiologic principle, it is also true that periodic restoration allows the mind to refresh and the body to rejuvenate.  

The months of preparation for an "A" (or high priority) race tend to take a tremendous toll on an athlete psychologically and physiologically.  What you do following an "A" race may determine the next 6-8 months of training and racing.  Follow these guidelines to give yourself the best chance to go after your goals this fall.

Schedule A Transition
Transitions are periods in an athlete's training during which they come off a structured plan.  Generally these are scheduled after a macrocycle (8-12 weeks of training) and most commonly after an "A" race.  Without this important "time off" the grind of months of training followed by the emotional and physical toll of a big race can make an athlete susceptible to illness, injury, and burn out.  

During a transition the athlete can continue to exercise for physical and mental health but the pressure to log structured training units is removed.  The length of a transition (week or weeks) is directly related to the length of the "A" race with ultra's and marathons requiring up to four (4) weeks.  Effective transitions result in the athlete feeling mentally refreshed and physically rejuvenated. 

Take Care of Nagging Niggles
Within the last few weeks of a training cycle, leading up to a high priority event, it's easy to ignore nagging minor aches and pains (ie. "niggles").  Most athletes experience them.  The transition period is the perfect time to tend to and resolve these issues.  "Minor" physical issues have the predisposition to turn into "major" physical issues if proper attention isn't given to them.  In nearly every circumstance with a little rest (absolute or relative) these "niggles" resolve.  

Get Back In The Gym
A solid strength training program is the most overlooked and underappreciated training modality for endurance athletes.  It's usually the first thing to fall by the wayside during a focused training cycle.  Transition periods are a great time to recommit to getting to the gym on a regular basis.

It is always better to take rest before you need rest.  An effective transition is like hitting the reset button.  It allows athletes to push ahead once again toward big goals without increasing the risk of getting sick, injured, or burning out. 

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