“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” - Alexander Graham Bell
You’ve heard it many times and you know that you should follow the common guidance. But, the thought that keeps nagging at you is – if I don’t workout, my competition will get the edge on me.
The holy grail of the Day Off. To be honest, in all my years of competing and all my years of coaching I NEVER scheduled a day off. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say I didn’t take a day off. Just that I never scheduled one. By the way, I also never suffered from an injury that required an extended layoff.
You are probably asking yourself, what’s your point? Well, for almost all adult athletes life is a juggling act, between our passion for sport and our job and family. How many times have you had a hard workout planned, only to have your boss tell you that you have to work late? Or you’ve got that long run or ride planned for Saturday, when you significant other tells you that you’ve got a family obligation out of town!
First, know this – days off are critical to a sound training program. All that work you do to get fitter and faster stresses your body. If you don’t give it a chance to recover and adapt, you’ll stagnate – you’ll reach a plateau and not improve. You see, there are two parts to training – progressive stress and recovery. We all get the progressive stress down pretty well. It’s intuitive. If you want to go further and faster, you have to push your body.
But, that’s only half of the story. Physiologically, you’re body will not adapt fully to the workout stresses unless you back-off the stress and allow your body to rebuild and grow.
So, if you never schedule a day off how do you recover and get stronger and faster? After every hard or long workout there should be at least one recovery day scheduled. The two days are linked. Never do a long or hard workout unless your can do a recovery day after.
Now, you’ve scheduled that long ride for Saturday and a recovery day on Sunday. When your life interferes with your planned workout, just shift everything forward a day. You’ll get a day off, but you will only lose one day of training.
The alternative is to have scheduled a day off on Monday, a long ride on Saturday and a recovery day on Sunday. You take Monday off. Saturday’s long ride is cancelled because of family obligations and now you’ve got two days off during one week!