There are few problems in life—physical or psychological—that copious napping, prolific caloric intake and utter and complete non-productivity will fail to remedy. I have heard recovery referred to as the “fourth discipline” in triathlon.
I hate rest days just as much as the next obsessive-compulsive triathlete. So instead of taking full recovery periods, I practice “intensive recovering”, a skill that I highly recommend cultivating. If you are disciplined enough to follow this regime, you can cram many days worth of recovery into a few hours. It’s totally equivalent.
Besides the obvious eating and sleeping, absolute non-productivity is a key element of intensive recovery. That means no work, no socializing (as if!), no errands, and absolutely no walks/yoga/square dancing/housework or anything else that your grandmother would find physically strenuous.
In fact, when you aren’t eating or sleeping, it’s best to remain horizontal in a dark room and avoid mentally-taxing thoughts. If this becomes unbearable, then light internet browsing is permissible, as long as you stay away from sports sites. Cooking is also allowed, provided you consume whatever you’re making before it cools. The idea is to take a staycation from all sports-related stimuli.
All week I dithered about racing the Fergus Highland Games 10k, my hometown race, on Sunday. After the Niagara Triathlon, I was feeling quite exhausted. Not surprisingly, I kept training fairly hard. Sometimes it pays to ignore your body’s signals and just HTFU. Sometimes it doesn’t. Recognizing the distinction is perhaps the biggest challenge for developing athletes, especially for those who are self-coached.
On Saturday morning, I decided that a serious bout of intensive recovery was needed. Three naps, three mega-meals and three litres of tea later, I began to feel more like myself and less like a cantankerous octogenarian. I registered for the race and bla bla bla ***insert tedious race report***. It was fine and I ran 33:13 (Results). I felt pretty special having Austin Trapp as a personal pace bunny.
Congratulations to my training buddy Scott Bridges on breaking 33 minutes. That’s a ~5 minute personal best coming off an injury! He also works full-time, commutes everywhere on his bike, shuns daily naps and has enviable facial hair to boot. Now that’s an hombre!