The Value of Rest – overdoing it can lead to your undoing!

Embrace a festive season break in routine.

Your resting heart rate is elevated, your thoughts are strained, your body is ‘restricted’, your output is frustrating, past injuries are niggling and if anyone asks you again ‘are you doing ok? What’s wrong?’, you might just SNAP!

These are all signs your body needs to rest. In training for an event,  traditionally you may have been taken the approach to continue to build on your training load until you are training at or above the distance or duration of the actual event. You feel confident you can now tackle the event but you are exhausted! How can we ask your body to perform at its best when it is completely fatigued? We can’t. Well not without serious risk of injury or potential illness or prolonged post event recovery.

Building rest days and even rest weeks into your training schedule can be the difference in entering event day completely depleted or all fired up and ready to go. In my experience with event preparation, you want to ensure you aim for one complete rest day each week. If you are like me, and find it hard to sit still, this rest day may come in the form of a stretching/flexibility focused session, a paddle in the pool (not hard-core laps) or even just a leisurely walk or ride with the kids but whatever it is, it needs to be time away from your structured training routine. In your training programming, it is also wise to ensure you have a lighter week every four weeks. This doesn’t mean a week off from your schedule – that could lead to injury if you stop completely for a full week then ramp things back up to where you left off – but more a reduction of up to 10% on your training load for that week, reduced distance, reduced intensity and reduced frequency. You continue to train but your output is lessened and has a different focus. The festive season can be just your opportunity for ‘de-loading’. Then you re-set and you are ready to enter the next phase of your training re-energised and refocused. Ready to take on a New Year or new event.

The festive season can take its toll and offer a benefit in many forms. Not only can we expose our bodies to food and drinks we wouldn’t often consume, we can also sacrifice good quality rest with the hustle and bustle of it all. Quality rest also comes in the form of sleep. Sleep is when our body’s repairs itself ready to perform at the expected level the following day. Where possible, we need to aim to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. If this is not possible, you want to ensure the sleep you do get is solid, uninterrupted repair time. To promote quality sleep establish an evening routine and attempt to stick with it as much as you can, appreciating a few late nights here and there during the silly season can have an impact on your training performance, so your training output and expectations need to be adjusted to suit – think ‘de-load’, lower intensity shorter duration training sessions. Also allow yourself flexibility. With the festive season there may be a period of time away from your day-to-day job, this presents an opportunity for you to train at a different time, in a different way – holiday workouts can be the key to reinvigoration! When you are back in the swing of routine, ensure you make sleep a part of your training program. Like your other activities, it is non-negotiable and has to happen. Nothing gets in the way of your Sunday run, so don’t let anything get in your way of a good night’s sleep. A rested body is a more responsive body. With the introduction of ‘de-load’ weeks your training output improves, performance is elevated, injury risk reduced, mindset positive and you are far more pleasant to be around! WIN WINS ALL ROUND! Embrace the festive season and ‘de-load’.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit” (unknown)