Rest days - don't feel guilty about taking them!
Why is it that so many people think that training harder will get you everywhere? Ever heard the quote ‘train smarter not harder’? The body needs down time and time to adapt so don’t feel guilty about taking rest days – they can actually make you faster! Here are the top four reasons why rest days are such a crucial part of your training program.
Without rest days our body isn’t able to adapt to the training that we are doing. Studies have shown that three times per week of strength training is actually better than five days per week because the body is able to adapt to the training. So what does this mean? Every time that we train the muscles have small microtears (commonly known as DOMS) – this is normal but the body needs to heal these to improve your strength and muscle power.
Following on from adaptation, without the rest days our body can’t recover and there is an increased risk of injuries. Are you a person who continually gets injured and can’t seem to get rid of the niggles? It may be your technique, but it may also be that you're overtraining (and this is a whole different topic which we’ll delve into later). Make sure that there is some variation in your training which involves rest days and some sort of peaks and troughs to keep the body in tip top shape.
This is a big one and definitely for females as the changes in our stress hormones don’t only change our tissue integrity but also changes our menstruation. These hormone changes can make you grumpy, stressed and mentally fatigued. This hormone is essential in short bursts but in the long term can cause a wide range of consequences.
With a hectic training schedule that so many people are under in the triathlon world, the rest days also allow us to catch up with friends and get out of the triathlon bubble that is sometimes all consuming. It allows us to rest our weary body and minds and get back on track.
So the moral of the story is – rest is actually good for us and is essential for our improvement in sport. Don’t be too hard on yourself and if you feel extremely tired and like you need a rest that is probably because you do. Take rest days – down time is just as important as the time spent training!
Alissa has an extensive background in sport, competing at an international level for her age in Triathlon. Alissa graduated from Griffith University on the Gold Coast in 2009 with a Bachelor of Exercise Science/Bachelor of Physiotherapy and since then has had experience with athletes, hospitals, community health, rehabilitation and chronic disease.