One thing I've read about over and over again and have been told over and over again is how important the rest day is while training. I hear it, I understand it, but it doesn't mean I want to do it. I'd been limiting myself to one rest day a week (which is reasonable) during training, but now that we're only 2 1/2 weeks out from the triathlon I'm continuing to push myself harder and harder. I haven't been that good about resting in between long days and this week my body forced me to stop and take a break.
There are signs your body starts to give you when you need a rest day: irritability and low energy levels, increased hunger, especially cravings for sugar, trouble sleeping, illness, injury.
This week has been intense and I've switched my long days around with my shorter days which I think confused my body. I tried to make the most of the long Labor Day weekend by utilizing my extra day off from work with longer training sessions.
Sunday was a long ride with about 1800 feet of elevation climbing (usually my rest day) and Monday was a long hill run. I started to feel the signs of needing a rest day by Monday night. I usually sleep like the dead during the week, and although I had long workouts on Sunday and Monday, I was awake most of the night on Monday - something highly unusual for me since I started training.
When I got to the pool on Tuesday for my long swim it took everything I had to get in the water and I ended up having to cut my set short because I was too tired to complete it. Luckily I slept incredibly well Tuesday night, but had a hard time getting up Wednesday for my bike to work followed by a 3 mile run. It took everything I had to bike home that evening as well.
Thursday I woke up feeling like death, but I just put it off to having it be morning and that I'm NOT a morning person. I figured I'd wake up on my drive in for my long run. I usually drive to work in the morning and run near the office since its quicker to change and shower there than run at home and then drive in. I suited up with my arm band, Garmin, and headphones and just as I was done setting the time on everything I felt a shooting pain reach up through my side. It felt like a cramp I could walk off so I started pacing a bit. The pain was not going away. After about 10 minutes I walked back inside contemplating what to do. Time was quickly slipping away for a long run and I could either go out for a shorter run (much to my chagrin) or change and go for a swim instead. But the pain was not going away. Extremely frustrated with myself I gave up and changed and just started work early.
Of course this got into my head and I started worrying about missing a session. Oh no! I didn't get my long run in this week! But wait, I already had one Monday! Technically I should have swam that morning and run at lunch, but I felt like I needed to do a long run instead. I began beating myself up that I was missing an important workout and started to vent to Marci about my morning. I was planning to do a mock-triathlon over the weekend to see what the full distance felt like and was starting to freak out that missing this run was going to affect Saturday's training. Marci reminded me to rest and take a day off, especially since Saturday was going to be intense. She reminded me that I had already put in a lot of miles this week and maybe my body just needed a day off. I listened to her, still not convinced I was doing the right thing, but took the day off - skipping the lunch run I thought I'd try to make up for the morning fail.
I slept like the dead on Thursday night and woke up Friday still tired, but feeling more refreshed. Instead of pounding it out on the pavement again I thought I'd hit the pool. And guess what - I felt GREAT. Refreshed, strong, and like I could swim all day long.
And all it took was one day off to get my head and my body rebooted.