Before Coronavirus hit, I had never really had many rest/easy weeks. I had your typical period at the end of the summer season before returning to training for cross country and I had regular rest days, but I didn’t tend to incorporate many easy weeks into my training. This was mostly because I had easier weeks leading into races and races occurred relatively regularly, so I didn’t really have the need to incorporate easy weeks into my training. However, with the arrival or coronavirus meaning there weren’t going to be any races for a while, I was forced to slightly reassess my training. If we weren’t going to race at least 4 months, I couldn’t realistically train at my best week in and week out without any down time.
Therefore, I decided to schedule in rest weeks at intervals I felt necessary, in order to keep me both physically and mentally strong. Some people find it best to have a rest week whenever their body tells them they need one, but I would just tell myself I never needed one, so for me, it is best to incorporate one at a set time, whether I think I need it or not.
I hate easy weeks. To half of my brain they make absolutely no sense. If I want to get better at something why would doing less help me improve? If I’m not working hard, I can’t help but feel what I’m doing isn’t allowing me to progress. I even manage to convince myself that within a week I will drastically lose all of my fitness. For a long time, my whole brain followed this ignorant approach. However, I realise that no one can train at their maximum potential without ever giving their body time to recover. Now, the other half of my brain, the rational side, knows I need to have easy weeks even if I don’t want them. Taking it easy for a little while is vital to progression. Easy weeks are important to allowing your body to refresh, build and repair, so you can return to training, being able to hit those sessions harder and faster. And, once you’ve sucked it up that you’ve got an easy week, you’ll realise there are some upsides to them.
Whilst it may not seem like it at the time, easy weeks can be very rewarding. A lot of us runners hate taking it easy and it can be more of an effort not to run fast than it can be to give our all in a session. Therefore, getting through an easy week, whether that be having a rest or just running easily, can be quite rewarding and great sense of achievement. I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to do a session but doing so made me feel quite proud of myself afterwards. It also means, come the end of your easy week your legs will feel refreshed and ready to work hard again when you do get back to doing sessions.
Something I have learnt, is that easy weeks should be enjoyed. They don’t happen very often so we should at least try to cherish them. It isn’t very often that, as athletes, we allow ourselves to just run without having a strict session plan to stick to. This is the perfect chance to just enjoy running for what it is. Explore new places, try new routes, run for as little or as long as you want to, and just enjoy getting out in the fresh air to clear your head.
It is also a great chance to enjoy doing a few other things with your time. Sessions take up quite a lot of your day, more than you realise, so enjoy using that extra time to do other jobs you have been meaning to do for a while. It is only an easy WEEK, so don’t waste your time.
It’s only a week.
Ultimately, it is only a week. Even if you don’t enjoy it, try to make the most of it. Strava may tell you within only a couple of a days that you are losing your fitness, and you may think you have got slightly slower, but let me tell you, you won’t have lost anything, maybe potentially only made gains.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!