Rest and laziness are the keys to success in endurance sport but extremely difficult to put into daily practice (especially when trying to balance work, family, and fitness.) You should aim for 8-10 hours of sack-time every night. If you can squeeze in an afternoon nap at work, go for it. Most professional athletes believe that you should generally lay about as much as possible and snack often. After all, when you are training hard, doing hard interval sessions and long rides, you will need all the rest and good nutrition you can get.
If you are trying to reach your athletic potential you’ll need to train really hard, then REST EVEN HARDER. Sleep is one of the best “recovery” methods there is. There are no secrets to endurance sport success, just sleep, eat, train, and repeat. Most of us also need to fit in work and family. Thus it can become a difficult juggling act to do it all well.
Each of us must work out our own plan to find the balance. The plan will vary with the seasons, family functions, and key athletic events. In the fall, winter, and early spring you have the holidays and may simply want to catch up on sleep, work on base conditioning, hit the weights, or cross-train. In the spring and summer, daylight is extended, races are happening, and there are a few more hours “available.” During these more active months it is important to stay on top of your rest and recovery so you are sharp when it counts.
At some point many of us ask ourselves “why am I doing this?”. Why do I run or cycle X miles per week? Why do I spend so much time and energy in this pursuit? The answer will vary but will often boil down to: “because it makes me feel alive”, or “I like being fit and competitive.” Some folks will go full bore to reach their racing potential, while many others are perfectly happy to enjoy fitness and the athletic lifestyle in moderation.
The bottom line is that unless sport/competition is your job, sport should be part of a balanced lifestyle. Weather that balance is 10% sport, 30% work, 60% family or some other ratio. Enjoy it and keep it all in perspective and above all, don’t forget to rest.
Now go REST before you TRAIN HARD! Find a consistent training/resting plan and build up to the 2014 season, which will be here soon.
KIT and Happy New Year,