One of the things that I super duper extra love about triathlon (versus just running) is that you can train at a higher intensity more frequently. It’s actually my favorite thing, and most of what got me so hooked to start with. When you swim you are resting running muscles, when you bike you are resting swimming muscles, and so on and so forth, enabling more long and intense workouts closer together without feeling as run down, tired, and, (though I haven’t been at it long enough to guarantee this one) in theory, injury-prone. Because of the same principle you also don’t need as long of a taper before a race. When I was “just a runner” I used to schedule at least one day off per week (no activity), plus another cross-training day to help my legs and mind recover and stay strong. Before a long race the taper lasted 3 weeks.
Friday’s used to be that activity-free day, and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it when my coach starting assigning “Group Swim” on my calendar every Friday. For years, whether training or just working out, Friday has been my morning to sleep in, take some extra time to get ready (AKA blow dry my hair and wear mascara, we’re not talking some insane beauty routine), and shuffle around the house before starting my day. It’s been the one day that I’m average and not scheduling around training, thus this new Friday ritual was a transition in a longstanding physical and mental routine. Fast forward to now, and I’ve grown to love Friday mornings in the lake. I love them for the time spent with equally “crazy” friends, and because there is truly no better way to start checking into the weekend than a serene and peaceful swim during sunrise. The Friday swims have meant nearly no days entirely off, but I’ve picked up on that and have learned to better use easy days (Friday swims, short runs) as recovery to get out and move and encourage my body to heal while teaching my mind to tune in.
Tomorrow marks my 3rd official assigned real day off since formal training began, and I’ve gotten so into the rhythm of tri versus running that I’m not looking forward to it. I don’t even plan to wear mascara to celebrate, in fact. It’s assigned as rest because it’s the first day of my taper week leading up to Saturday’s race and though it makes sense to start it off with a day to rebuild and repair after some big weekends/weeks I don’t love the feeling of pausing my momentum. There are a few things that I know I need to improve upon as an athlete (other than FASTER! STRONGER! FASTER! STRONGER!, but that, too), and one of those is that I need to embrace rest without falling into depression and ambivalence. But I just can’t get my mind to stop questioning myself when I’m not proving my progress daily!
I spent time this weekend recalling the simpler days of “just running,” more specifically my personal state in those weeks leading up to marathons. The discomfort (mental), fatigue (physical), and discontentment (all of the above), has lasted for all 3 of those weeks leading up to race day in the past (poor husband!). Though remembering and acknowledging that doesn’t make those feelings disappear, they do make me feel grateful that this time around I only have to handle it for 1.
Okay, so there is rest for this weary person, but I don’t like it much.