Updated: Dec 22, 2018
If you have just completed the 2018 Track & Field season, there is one job you need to do, and it's as important as any workout you've ever done: you must rest. Not forever, that's called retiring- but rest for two weeks. That's a pretty standard duration for a post-season hiatus.
For developing runners, purposeful rest between seasons is an essential part of long-term growth and development in the sport. Physically and emotionally, you need to regenerate and refresh because just around the corner is the next training cycle full of increased intensity, volume and stress. It would be in your best interest to go into this phase of training well-rested.
I am reading a great biography, "A Cold Clear Day" about a runner from South Dakota named Buddy Edelen. Edelen was one of the best distance runners of his time and was coached by Fred Wilt, himself a legendary figure in distance running.
Edelen was living and training in England and Wilt coached him through the mail via letter, so any adjustments to training had to be made after the fact. Edelen, like most runners, didn't trust himself enough to rest and tried to sneak in a few workouts before an important marathon. Edelen bombed the race and eventually Wilt was able to diagnose Edelen's training logs and respond to the race performance.
Here's what Wilt wrote to Edelen about rest:
I can't say that this 40 minute jog hurt you. I can say it does not help two days before a race. This is a manifestation of uncertainty. There is a time to train and a time to rest- not halfway rest.
Not uncommon, even to elites, Edelen let doubt creep into his mind leading into the race. He extra added training outside of what Wilt had scheduled...and it left him ragged come race day. Edelen learned a valuable lesson in regard to rest, but he had to learn it the hard way.
The topic of this post is a little different than Edelen and Wilt's scenario, but the concept is exactly the same-
When it's time to rest...rest. Not half-way rest, but rest.
Right now is the time to rest.
We try to take a long-term, developmental approach to training. Thus, each year you'll be asked to add a little more stress to your training program in order to incrementally reach new levels of fitness each year. Rest is an important part of the improvement equation, so before we start a new cycle of training this summer, it's imperative that you do a good job of....doing nothing!
Your body, your mind...and your 2018 Cross Country performances will thank you.