The Need For A Double Sleep

When training towards a goal, it is easy to adopt the mindset that the more training sessions you can get in the better. This is especially true for triathletes or cross-training athletes who are training nearly every day (and sometimes twice a day).

If you have recently managed to get back to training with a big burst of enthusiasm, you might have the attitude of "I missed this so much I'll train and train until I drop!". But don't underestimate the importance of scheduling and sticking to your rest days. You need them!

Training hard and regularly without having appropriate rest will have a detrimental effect on your performance and even make you ill.  Every training session results in a small degree of damage to your muscles, nerves and connective tissues. It also fatigues your energy systems and leaves you depleted. Rest days are important in helping to restore energy levels and repair and rejuvenate those parts of the body that get damaged during training sessions.

If you are a really driven individual you might think "Yeah but if I train in the morning on Thursday and evening on Friday that's over 24 hours rest!" - but the mistake here is to underestimate the importance of sleep for recovery. Try thinking of a rest day as a "double sleep" instead and you'll get a much truer picture of what you need. Taking this time out from your training will allow you to get back to the pool feeling energetic and ready to keep working towards your goal.

How many rest days do I need? We would normally suggest one clear day off per week but if you are especially tired don't be afraid to take a second day off. Striking the right balance between training and recovery is essential to improve your fitness - remember you are gaining, not losing, from the additional rest.

So driven you can't actually do nothing? If you just have to include something on your rest day then make it a stretching routine - especially for your hip flexorsthoracic area and shoulders - areas often neglected by swimmers. Improving flexibility in these areas will help to raise your body position in the water and improve your stroke technique.

You can access our full stretching routine on our Swim Smooth Guru (subscription required) which would be a perfect addition to your rest day:



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