Thursday, December 18, 2008

The sweet sauce

After nearly a week and a half straight without any breaks I decided to take a day off. I had a suspicion that I would be fatigued after a day that included a swim, elliptical, stairs, running and weights.

Rest: the sweet sauce of labor - Plutarch

Sometimes discipline is not training when you want to. I used to measure how many straight days I trained without a break when I was younger. And it was easy to pump up those weekly mileage totals by not taking any days off. I realize now that I wasn't training to improve on many days but just spinning my wheels working hard for nothing or more likely preparing to get injured and taking a big step back. Now I look at my days off as a reward for good work and an opportunity to regroup and have better training after the break.

I like to hit the rhythm where I take Monday off and get a scheduled massage as well. After six straight days of training and usually a heavy load on Saturday and Sunday, my body is ready for the break. Paula Radcliffe sets her rest cycle every 10 days. For Paula the week has no meaning as everyday is the same. For us that have jobs and other schedules to account for, we need to set things up on a seven day rhythm usually.

When I worked with Christine Clark the year she won the Olympic Trials in the marathon, she was on a six days on cycle with one day off. Even though she was "only" running 70 miles a week, she was really training at a 85-mile per "week" effort those six days. One should also consider the micro injuries that aren't apparent that heal up in that break between the last workout and the first one after the day off.

The mental aspect can't overlooked either as one gets in a rut. Obviously, training is very mental and keeping the mind fresh is as valuable as the body.

So even though I wasn't "training", I feel like today is another day that I have improved as well as set myself up for another step towards improvement in the coming week.

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