Right now, I am coaching 6 athletes for triathlons. Three are getting ready for an Ironman and three are getting ready for 70.3 Ironman. The three athletes that are getting ready for 70.3 Ironman are in Recovery Week.
When I plan out workouts for my athletes, I use “Periodization.” Here is your history lesson for the day.
Historically, periodization became popular at the time of the ancient Olympics. Athletes have a very simple logical of training…they train to compete for pre-Olympics and Olympics and then a little bit of R-n-R. Using this kind of periodized training, athletes plan their whole year around specific events. An athlete’s year can be divided into a prep phase, base phase, build phase, and peak phase.
Leonid Matveyev, a Russian professor, started analyzing how the Soviet athletes trained for the 1952 Olympic Games. His work, which scientifically validated periodization, showed that an annual training plan (ATP) should be divided into phases of training with each phase having a specific plan (increase endurance, increase strength, etc.) within that ATP. Each week/phases was then broken down smaller training phases called “macro-cycle” (2-6 week duration) and “micro-cycle” (one week of training).
My athletes have “macro-cycles” of 2-3 weeks. These weeks range from 9-12 hours of training each week. If you are a Master athlete, I will have 2 weeks on/1 week recovery week. Us, old folks, need that extra rest. Under 40, 3 weeks on/1 week off. But when I tell my athletes that it is a recovery week, this is what I have them do:
- Active Recovery…still moving that body but try to do nothing more than an hour of workouts.
- Testing your speed and skill. I may have them do a 1000 meter time trial test or a 5k run or a 20 min bike to find a new FTP or Critical Power.
- Limit the food intake that you will be eating. Not training as hard and don’t need to excess food.
- Get a massage…take a couple of extra naps through out the week…time to Rest Up. You have a couple of hard weeks ahead!
- Catch up on life: laundry, meet with friends, talk to your spouse (J/K), clean the house…get someone to clean the house. etc.
Recovery Week is CRUCIAL in my world as an athlete and as a coach. Most athletes are Type A personality, so they tend to go harder, longer for a longer period of time. Some of my athletes hesitate to take a “down week” but trust me, they will not lose fitness. This recovery week is only helping them. Athletes feel that if you go hard all the time then you will make improvements. Here is a study from “Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine”, stating quite the opposite…http://www.ais.up.ac.za/med/sport/hormonal.pdf.
Look at your own training now. Have you had any time off in your training schedule? Do you schedule yourself rest days? Rest or Active Recovery Weeks? Contact me, if you need help with a training plan for your next race or competition…yes, I will give you down time because I believe and scientifically it has been proved:
Recovery will improve your Fitness!