RAGBRAI Training: Rule #4: Resting is Training Too
by Coach David Ertl
Number 4 on my 5 Rules of Training list is rest. God said to rest one day a week, I say you can even rest two or even three days a week if you need to. If you have been following my advice, and some of you actually do based on my emails, then you may be feeling a bit tired and worn out from all the hard, long riding you are doing. To improve your fitness, you need to push yourself a bit harder or farther than you have previously done. This results in fatigue and sore muscles.
The soreness in your muscles is due to micro tears in your muscle fibers from the work on the bike you have done. This muscle damage gives you that tenderness the next day or two after a long, hard ride. The body works to recover this damage by rebuilding the muscle fibers and making them bigger and stronger in the process. That’s one way that training works. But your body needs time to do this repair job and that is called recovery in training parlance. I have a favorite saying “Training breaks your body down, it’s the recovery that makes you stronger”. You see, if all you did was ride hard every day you would notice an increase in fatigue and soreness and your riding would begin a gradual decline in quality. That’s because you are piling on the stress but not allowing for recovery to improve on that. It is during the recovery from the exertion that your body actually heals and gets stronger.
So to take advantage of all of your riding and training stress that you are accumulating, you need to also build in recovery days. I’d suggest not to do more than two hard days of riding in a row, such as Saturday and Sunday, and then take the next day or two easy. Taking it easy means not riding at all, but it is actually better for recovery if you stay active and do some light exercise (called Active Recovery!). Go for a walk or take an easy spin on your bike for 30 minutes. This should be an easy around-town pace spinning an easy gear.
For RAGBRAI, if you can get in four days of good riding per week, that should be plenty. That leaves with three days a week to recover, or mow the lawn, or work on the honey-do list.
Coach David Ertl
David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and individual cyclists through the Peaks Coaching Group. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.