Today's #TheWerk post is brought to you by Jennifer Volman (@jennifervollmann). Jennifer is a triathlon and mindset coach, age group triathlete, and mom. She is the owner and head coach of Finding Endurance.
“Hey coach, did you really mean to give me a rest day?”
“I know you said easy for 20 mins, but it didn't seem like enough so I did hill repeats for 60 mins.”
These are all real messages I get from my athletes. For most average humans, recovery is a pretty natural part of life. For triathletes… it can be one of the most difficult things to coach. Triathletes tend to be very focused and high achieving people and the idea of resting to get stronger is a hard one to put into practice.
When you consistently skip recovery, you miss out on one of the most important parts of training… adaptation. If you increase intensity or volume in your training session, you have to have a period where your body can soak in the fitness. Without it, you are limiting your fitness boosts and jeopardizing future sessions.
What I always find interesting in this dynamic of skipping recovery is where it comes from. In my experience, it is usually derived from a fear of losing fitness. Athletes with a mindset of always doing more or adopting Garmin’s slogan “beat yesterday” means they are pushing too hard all the time. Ironically, this will result in losing fitness. Athletes that can trust the process, incorporate rest and recovery in their programs, can more easily gain fitness and achieve better adaptations.
So how do you address this?
You can just choose to rest when your coach or program suggests. This works for a short time, but eventually athletes will start cutting recovery and making easy sessions too hard. That is because they have not addressed their underlying “more is better” mindset which is leading to their fear of losing fitness.
I find that digging a little deeper into your mindset as to why you feel the need to keep pushing hard gets actually to the core of what is going on.
Ask yourself: What am I afraid will happen?
Loss of fitness?
Feeling like not doing enough?
Others will get better?
Then ask is that really true?
Will you really lose fitness if you take a rest day?
Will you really gain weight if you keep the 20 min run easy?
Many times what happens with fear is we extrapolate out the worst and apply it to the session. But we don't like to feel fear, so we tend to ignore it. But when you really address it, it can become a lot clearer and you can see it for what it is - made up and scary scenarios that are probably not true!
If you want to be a successful athlete then you will need to create a mindset that embraces rest and recovery as a key part of your training. You can do that by looking at why you are resisting recovering and what you are making it mean. Over time, I bet you learn to love the rest and easy days for what they are, a chance to soak up the fitness and enjoy other parts of life. Then you can hit it hard the next day when it counts!
Jennifer Vollmann is a triathlon and mindset coach, age group triathlete, and mom. She is the owner and head coach of Finding Endurance. Jennifer coaches beginner athletes up to World Championship qualifiers. Through her mindset coaching, she helps athletes and non-athletes create a life they are excited to live. Jennifer believes that endurance sports are not just about a race: it is about the journey to build mental fitness, confidence, resilience, patience, and the ability to push in all aspects of life. As a coach, she is passionate about helping her athletes find their journey and discover their potential.