When training, I used to frequently asking myself – how much do I need to rest before the next hard training session? The amount of rest is a key factor in determining the quality and efficiency of training. If you gave insufficient rest, training will become counter-productive. Take too much rest and you never stretch yourself satisfactorily.
Bradley Wiggins said that the best preparation for riding the Olympic Time trial (2012) was riding the three week Tour de France – finishing nine days before. The Tour de France has two ‘rest days’. But for Wiggins a rest day meant a three hour ride with an alpine climb – not my kind of rest day.
In the nine days between the Tour de France and the time trial, Wiggins was riding hard – including burying himself in the 250,m road race. Many less capable cyclists would have turned up to that time trial – not in a peak state of fitness, but complete exhaustion. During this particular racing period, Wiggins is taking very little rest.
At the other end of the spectrum, in Graeme Obree’s training manual – he states that after a really hard training session, it could take him up to four days to fully recover before the next full-on training session. Obree’s philosophy was that to make progress, you have to train at a higher level than ever before. To transcend previous achievements you need to be fully recovered. If you train when already tired, you can’t make the same progress.
So with two very successful professional cyclists – you have two very different approaches to the amount of rest needed. For amateur cyclists aiming for maximum fitness with limited time, rest days take on more importance.
On the one hand, coaches often stress the importance of rest days to allow full recovery – but then the best cyclist are those who race 100 days a year and ride three-week tours. Continue Reading →