Rest is a very important part of training.
I have been resting and thus not writing here on my blog recently.
What I have been doing is active and passive physical and mental rest. I transitioned back to the 747-400. Maripat and I went to Boulder recently to see our sons and granddaughters. I have been writing my book and sending it back to my editor and some others for the copy-edit. That does not sound like rest but shifting gears. I have not stopped moving but decreased my intensity in everything.
Rest is just what it means, rest from activity. Rest is either passive, or active. There are many parts to rest. I will address them in different contexts. Normal training consists of a few different cycles. The largest context is the four-year Olympic cycle. The shift in focus will change from year to year as the Olympic year approaches. As I change and my goals change, so will my rest requirements change.
Within the Olympic cycle is the yearly cycle that every competitive athlete goes through. The yearly cycle must include periods of rest. I generally finish my competitive season in the middle of March, this year it was late December. I then take at least six to eight weeks off of training. During this time, it is important to let my body and mind heal from the intense work over the past ten months or so. I take a break in many ways, like catching up on the things I have put off due to my competition and training schedule. I am less active physically, this is my winter. I let the field rest so it can produce again later with more abundance, just like the farmers do for their crops. During this time, I can do a number of things. One thing I like is to continue to do a little very easy biking and stretching.
I do nothing intense, everything is just for fun! When I was growing up, my parents stressed that I should learn my sport as best as possible, but also learn sports I could do for life. For example, I learned to play golf and tennis, and I still enjoy them today. Doing other sports will help me be a better skater because I will have a better, more rounded foundation to draw from. The important principle in active rest is to keep the intensity low. When I am ready to start the training cycle over again, my body and mind will tell me. I cannot force the issue! Starting back too soon or too fast will cause me to burn out again or get injured.
Because I am used to a lot of physical activity, stopping cold turkey will throw me off. It is still important to be active, just not as much, and without any real intensity. My body needs the rest and I must give in to it, or suffer in the long run.
A tool, that I use in gauging whether I am training to an optimum level is ithlete. I heard about ithlete from a fellow speed skater, researched it, and decided that this was something that might help me decide when to go hard or back off on my training. ithlete is an application on my smart phone that uses a receiver, and my polar heart monitor. I take a measurement immediately after waking in the morning to gauge my readiness to train hard that day. Illness and stress in my life will give me low numbers and tell me that I need rest or to train easy that day. It reflects all of my life factors including a very high training load. In the past I would train right through these times and my racing suffered as a result. This tool can give me physical feedback and ithlete validates that feeling when I am on track or overtrained.
When I look at my monthly training plan I must plan my rest accordingly. Through trial and error I have found that after working hard for 3 weeks I must reduce my intensity and volume and do an active rest week. I will decrease my intensity and volume for a week so that I may avoid burn out or injury. In the weekly plan I also plan for a rest day, usually Sunday. During the week I will space my intense training out so that there are no two days in a row without a rest or recovery day. For instance, skating is like doing a hard weight workout. I will not do weights one day then skate the next, it would be counterproductive. I will do a cardio bike recovery workout, swimming, or yoga in between skating and weights.
Again, I will take the lead from my dog, kick back, lay down, rebalance, and rest.