Rest and recovery 


Everyone looks forward to a summer holiday. That feeling when you shut down your computer in work, knowing that for one or two glorious weeks you won’t need to worry about those emails or the traffic on the way to work. You go away, relax and unwind and come back refreshed and raring to go. You need that break from the routine, from the stresses of everyday life and a chance to try new things. Having a break is something that is instilled from a young age- schools are based on terms and have regular breaks to ensure learning and education is maximised. It seems rather odd therefore, that the same principle isn’t applied by some to rest from training. Yes that’s right- the dreaded R word…. and not by force. I mean actually CHOOSING to rest. The thought of this can actually send people mad. Surely I cannot rest? I will lose all my fitness! Two weeks? No way…..


But, having a rest period should be an important part of your training programme. In the summer months we often race and train more than in the winter months thanks to the longer nights and earlier mornings. We spend weeks and weeks building up to events, competing, and then carrying on without a pause for breath. You can of course continue like this for a while, but eventually you either get; a) really tired and can’t understand why you aren’t training like you were a few weeks ago or b) fed up of the constant training which affects your mental ability to focus.


Most professional athletes will have at least a 2 week break at the end of the summer season and again after winter. Whilst you may argue that they train more and do this for a living, on the other hand most of us work a full time job, juggle family and parent hood AND find the time to train in-between. Surely this is just as deserving of a break?


Some points to consider about having a short rest.
  1. You won’t lose any fitness. Pretty sure it’s scientifically impossible to lose any aerobic fitness in just two weeks.
  2. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fortnight where you don’t worry about training or rushing to fit in a session….
  3. And also be able to say “yes” to seeing friends or going out rather than “I’m training tonight….”
  4. You will definitely come back raring to go after a 2 week break
  5. Having a rest doesn’t mean you become a slob for two weeks. It just means you aren’t consciously training. So try swimming, or a short bike ride with the family or walk more. Do something to break up the routine.
  6. Having a longer rest period than just a few days allows the body sufficient time to repair the damage caused by training and competition- just imagine how much you have been doing over the last few months! This makes you stronger in the future.
  7. If you have been training for something that has been quite difficult, a rest period will enable your mind to relax and return to normal. Marathons and other events can be very psychologically demanding and the impact of this shouldn’t be underestimated.


So on day 1 of my rest period today, I decided to go shopping after work and leisurely went home knowing that I didn’t have to rush. I walked past my trainers in the full knowledge that I deserve a break and my body will thank me for it later on in the winter season. And to be honest it felt pretty good!! Give it a go and you may surprise yourself.
St Helens Striders