A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how important it is to have a rest week and to take things easy sometimes to ensure you don’t get run down. I’ve looked back at my own training log for 2015 so far and realised I’m probably not following my own advice enough having only had one real rest week in March, that was enforced due to illness. I will have a rest after Monday once I finish the 150 mile ride I’ve got to do, but it reminded why I seem to struggle to rest. If you said to most normal people to take a rest week and cut back on the intensity and amounts of sport they were doing they would probably leap up and down in happiness and sit on the sofa with a bottle of wine and some cake watching the X-Factor, but to the more sporty amongst the population doing that is almost harder than running that marathon or riding 100 miles. Athletes just don’t want to sit down and rest. Like most other people I have developed this irrational fear that a week off the bike will render me fat and a million times slower than the week before and that I’ll fall behind my targets for the year whereas in reality I would repair those muscles, freshen up and probably go further and faster. So why is it so hard to rest for a week?
Normally I rest for five days so that I can ride at the weekend. Monday is normally my rest day anyway and involves the most exciting task in the work of cleaning my house and bikes so the start of the week is never too difficult to use as rest day and I’m normally still tired from the weekend anyway. So day one of the week and I’m pretty happy to put my feet up and watch some trash TV.
Tuesday is where things start to get a little bit restless. It’s training night on a Tuesday and with an array of chaingangs heading out onto the road it’s really hard not to just pick up my bike and head out to tear my legs to pieces. After all, if everyone else is training and I’m not then I’m definitely getting slower right? Wrong. After about an hour of convincing myself that I could better use the time sobbing into my bike cassette I’ll settle down for the evening and begrudging check Strava every five minutes and cry a little more because I didn’t ride my bike. We’ve all been there.
Wednesday is even worse. It’s now the middle of the week and despite not riding for two days you’re guaranteed to still have the appetite of an elephant. Everything you see you want to eat but suddenly you’re crying into that cassette again because you’re mind tells you that you’re going to get fat from all this rest so if you eat that family sized cake for four you should probably ride your bike. Wrong. Instead finish the family size cake and maybe one more then rest your legs again. The eternal urge to ride the bike is strong now but the force is with me – well the force of the cake pushing me into the sofa is.
Thursday doesn’t seem too bad. It’s over half way through the week now and after not riding for three days things don’t feel to bad anymore. Until the realization that once again it’s training night and I’m sat at home again. The legs feel a lot better by this point in the week so I’m still itching to get outside again. Instead I’m forced to do some odd looking and painful moves that make up ‘yoga’. It’s not the must fun and won’t earn me any KOM’s but seems to do the trick anyway.
When Friday comes around it’s safe to say though that it’s time to put a giant bubble around me and avoid me at all costs. It’s been five days since I last rode the bike by this point and I’m on the edge. Even a bike passing by might tip me over the edge. The feint whisper of random bike works in the head pushes me towards the bike but I can rest knowing that on Saturday I can get back to riding the bike and hopefully give the riders around me a bit of a painful ride around the Dales.
Thankfully the weekend comes around quite quickly and I can head back out on the bike knowing that despite the anguish from sitting at home resting I’m probably a bit more well rounded for doing so; even if I had to endure torture to get there. It’s important to take rest despite fighting the urge to ride and unlike me, you can still ride but cut the distance right down and really do stick to zone one of your heart rate zones to get the full benefit. It might feel counterintuitive but it works.
So, with just two days to go until I attempt another rest week, it’s more than right time to pray I make it through this terribly difficult week of rest and recovery.