It might seem quite ironic that iTrainedToday would encourage you to rest today, but the importance of rest and recovery in any training program is traditionally under-valued. Rest and recovery is, in fact, a very important training set. Our focus with life, however, demands of us to always be “on the go” and with training it’s no different. The first thing anybody thinks of during a rest day is: “Uh-oh. I’m getting slower/weaker/more unfit the longer I sit here not training.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
A well timed rest day allows your body to adapt to the training load and prepare for the next one. Going into a training session with something to spare allows you to push harder, faster, further, longer. The alternative is a sub-optimal session which carries an opportunity cost far greater than just carrying on with training “just because”.
Let’s not forget the psychological benefits of a rest which are rarely considered. Nothing quite like a small break from the usual routine to make you hungry, help you re-evaluate your progress, reflect and gear up for the next day. Similarly, there’s also the social benefit. Are your friends getting tired of inviting you out because you inevitably end up declining due to “being tired” or “got an early start” or just plain “no, thank you- I’m in training”.
So what exactly constitutes a rest?
Doing nothing is a good start. Zero training, zip, nada. Just kick back and relax. That’s the most basic form of rest. There are also other rest days which float between doing absolutely nothing and border very close to having felt like you trained today.
Options include: a light, structured set focusing on recovery. Examples include watching TV on a stationery bike or even just taking a light jog/walk. Maybe a light stretch-it-out set in the pool? Surfing (either on a board, malibu, ski or just plain bodysurfing) because the weather/swell is on. Stretching, light yoga or easy pilates. Even just meditating. Anything that calms and refreshes can be considered a rest.
How often should you rest?
Well, you need to work that one out for yourself. Everybody is so individual when it comes to needs and responses to training and recovery that a combination of science (resting heart rates, appetite, weight loss) and art (mood, feelings, lifestyle, goals) is required to assess when’s a good time to rest, for you. Just so long as it’s relatively regular and mostly intentional, you’ll gain a lot more enjoyment and performance when your training set today means just kicking back and enjoying your health.