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Achieving your Personal Best by Inserting Rest

By George Payan

Inserting rest into your training plan is a way to assist you  to attain personal goals. Rest is an essential element in any training plan, but is all too often overlooked, and even avoided in some circumstances. Rest is also known as restoration. Restoration is a system of recovery which enables the body to avoid illness and injury. There are two types of rest: active-rest and complete rest.

Active-rest is "light" training such as a warm-up that might include jogging, flexibility and strides. Active-rest should not exceed more than 30 minutes and is performed at an easy pace with minimal stress. Do not confuse active-rest with easy training days. Easy training days consist of workouts that are 30 minutes to 60 minutes of continuous running at a "conversational" pace.

Complete rest consists of no training in any form. This includes no running whatsoever, and no alternative training methods to be performed on these days. Plan a system of rest or active-rest in your training into all three of your training period.

Transition Period

During the Transition Period, it is suggested individuals "detrain" for two or more weeks, depending on the individual needs. Detraining allows individuals to ebb from all methods of training, so the individual may physically and mentally recover from the stress imposed.  Individuals who do not detrain will often become hyperactive and may not be able to sleep.

Example Schedules of Transition Period

  • Tues, Thurs, Sat: Detraining--easy days.
  • Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri: Rest or active-rest.

When inserting rest days into your training plan, do not take more than two consecutive rest days off in a row.

Preparation Period

After two or more "easy" weeks and the Transition Period is complete, start the Preparation Period or "Build-up Phase," which may last 6-12 weeks. There are three phases that may be adopted for the Preparation Period:

Base Phase 1 (2-3 weeks)

  • Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sat--Training

  • Sun, Tues, Fri--Rest or active-rest

Base Phase 2 (2-3 weeks)

  • Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat--Training

  • Sun & Mon--Rest or active-rest

Base Phase 3 (2-6 weeks)

  • Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat--Training

  • Sun--Rest or active-rest

At the end of the Preparation Period insert additional rest or active-rest to avoid overtraining, illness or injury.

Competitive Period

After every three weeks in the Competitive Period insert rest as needed. The rest could be considered as a tapering method by decreasing the volume. The volume decreases, but the intensity intensifies.

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