If you train and don’t have the right rest you’re wasting your time on the bike.
You won’t recover, you’ll get tired and you’ll probably get sick as your body screams out for a break.
Not factoring in enough rest is where the fine line between improving and overtraining is crossed.
Rest is crucial to let the body adapt to the training stress it is being put under.
It’s also important to have rest scheduled into your training program to stay mentally fresh and motivated.
How you structure your rest will vary depending on your fitness and experience but here’s my rough guide.
Whether you do or don’t have a coach you should map out a plan for your training and incorporate periods of rest.
As a general rule, do your high-intensity workouts when you’re at your freshest (e.g. after a day or two off), as you can do endurance/low-intensity rides while carrying a bit of fatigue.
Schedule an easy week every three to four weeks.
Having days off and easy weeks in your training plan keeps you mentally fresh as you know there’s a bit of reprieve from the training not too far away.
The rest week isn’t completely off the bike. It’s a significantly reduced workload. This could simply be a week with two or three one-hour coffee shop rides.
If work requires a bit of travel then factor your rest periods around that to take some of the training pressure off while you’re on the road.
But remember the old trap many people fall into of not going hard enough on the hard days and going too hard on their easy days. Take it easy. It’s rest.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
There will be days when you have a big ride or an interval session planned but your body is screaming out for you to stop. Listen to it.
If you wake up and your heart rate is through the roof or you can’t get it up once on the bike, you’ve got that scratching feeling in the back of your throat or your legs just feel horrendous on the bike take it easy.
You’re better off skipping a session or cutting it short than getting sick and missing a fortnight of training.
MASSAGE AND SLEEP
If money and time permits a weekly or fortnightly massage is great aid to recovery.
And don’t be one of those people who brag about how little sleep they get. The best recovery drug of all is sleep.
Being one of the most recognizable voices of cycling, Matthew Keenan regularly forms part of the international commentary team at the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, broadcast around the world from Europe, USA, Africa, New Zealand and on SBS in Australia.
Matt is one of the two official voices of L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France.