I read a really great article last weekend, I think in Triathlete Magazine. Then I accidentally recycled it in a stack, and can’t find any trace of the article online. The premise was simple in theory, but unlike any way that I’ve ever read or thought about self-confidence and its relationship with race preparation, readiness, and success.
Athletes who dislike rest days, tapering, and recovery generally do so because of a lack of self-confidence.
The article really focused on smarter training and recovery as part of a well-constructed and successful plan. Of course you need to stress your muscles and body in order to see improvement, but before you can reap the rewards you also need to recover to build a stronger version of yourself. Many athletes – me included – really dislike rest days, taper weeks, and doing anything that resembles not actively moving forward.
But that’s just the thing. Resting and recovery does move you forward.
Recovery should really be looked as another discipline to work into a training schedule. Without them the hard work can’t be absorbed – or celebrated – in a productive way. And the athletes who don’t like easy sessions or days off? Well, turns out most of them are workhorses who are insecure about their performance and lack confidence in their preparation plan. Hating on rest doesn’t have much to do with hating resting, it has to do with insecurities about preparation, and thinking that you could have done more.
On every rest day I’ve had I experience an underlying feeling of guilt when I should be proud for doing what I need to do to get better. I’ve heard “rest is part of the plan” about a million times, but I’ve never thought about it in connection with my confidence in the plan.
I don’t always have confidence in my ability to perform. But generally speaking I have good confidence in my plan. I believe that if I follow my plan I’ll get where I want to go. Occasionally I question details. But I’m an athlete who feels so guilty for cutting 10 minutes out of a run that I’ll make up the time later for peace of mind. Really. I did that this weekend. I take extreme pride in following directions.
All of this makes sense to me, perfect sense, but I think it’s also a bit easier said than done. Some days I can’t give as much as I’d like to and want to make up for it later. But rather than putting miles in the bank it would probably be a better idea to make each one count now and enjoy the rest day when it comes around next. Because there probably won’t be a whole lot of them between now and August!