7. Rest & High-Level Training

Jim Maxwell's Advice: Rest as a Component of High Level Training

At the end of the fall Cross Country season and at the end of the spring Track season the topic of rest as a component of
high level training should be thoroughly looked at.  The two running sports split, by design, the year into two training seasons punctuated by rest and then rebuilding.

As athletes we try to maximize what we can do personally and what we can bring to the sport of  distance running. The topic of rest is often overlooked or even neglected. In order to go faster and longer,  it seems that more training would often be the answer. At some points in the training cycle, more is the answer. But even then, an understanding of the role rest plays in all athletic training
should be embraced and incorporated into our program.

There are so many uses of rest in athletic training that we need to explore  the full  range of the concept.  One end of a continuum of rest as a tool would be rest (or recovery) between interval or hill repeats. We all feel like we are resting  as we slowly descend the hill that we are repeatedly pushing up in a hill  repeat workout.

The other end of the rest continuum is end of season rest or post race (marathon, half marathon etc ) rest and recovery. (Read "Post Season Rest Protocol" for a detailed plan.   Between these two bookends on the continuum of rest are many other points where rest is the best choice to maximize our running and racing .

Sleep is obviously our major daily rest. Runners doing high volume training need more hours of rest than their non-athletic classmates.  We can monitor our basal pulse to see if we are sleeping enough. An uptick in morning basal pulse signals that the body needs more rest. Google "Monitoring Basal Pulse " to learn to use this tool.

When we train 2 times per day, the level of intensity for each run is determined by alternating easy/hard workouts. We never train hard twice in a day, the term "recovery run" is resting while running. When you race the Cross Country distance, we, as coaches, always say,  "run very easy the next several days. Run,  but "Kellen" the distance."  (Kellen Blumburg fully embraced "slow" in his
long slow distance training, with amazing results,Kellen is in the # 40 position of all time runners times at Mt Sac with a 14:42 over the 3 mile course.)

Alternating between workouts:  easy and hard workouts;  hills and flat runs; long slow distance and quality and speed work. The logic that drives this is the correct use of rest. It feels like a restful run when you go long but slow after a day of speed work. All of this fits into the basics of the training model that our bodies and minds require for long term high level fitness and overall athletic health.

Training "stresses " our bodies and the body's  reaction is to get stronger so that the same level of work is no longer stressful. We are infinitely adaptable to the stresses of training, if we allow the time needed to rest and recover. Recovery in this context is the body literally growing stronger.

Time as a component of rest needs to be clarified. Obviously the time needed for end of season rest is quite different than the time needed to "recover" between intervals.   As we mature as athletes, we need to develop the ability to read our bodies and minds so that we can correctly  decide how much time we need to rest to maintain our training and our overall health.

Training for runners is often shown graphically  as a triangle:  one side represents Strength, one side represents Endurance, and one side represents Speed.   Add to this Rest, placed in the center of the triangle, to represent rest's important place in endurance training.  Each component ~ Strength, Endurance, and Speed ~ are enhanced by the proper use of rest.

Take care, see you on the trails.

Jim Maxwell

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