The biggest mistake that I see from athletes, both beginners and veterans, is that they go too hard on their easy days. As an athlete, I too have struggled with making sure I don’t push my effort when it’s supposed to be an easy day. The detriment to pushing your easy days is that you don’t truly recover, and therefore you can not push your limits on those workouts that call for it. What happens is that you end up doing all of your workouts at 65 to 85%, and never give yourself the opportunity to have that great training day.

So, here are my 5 tips to help you go easy when your coach has an active recovery day on your schedule.
1. Easy workouts should be done alone. Going solo on these workouts means you set the pace where you need it to be. Group workouts can often become competitive, which is good when you want to push hard, but are counter-productive for rest. The great triathlete Mark Allen once said that a key to his success was performing his easy days on his own.
2. Watch your numbers and keep it in control. A heart rate monitor, GPS device, and/or power meter are great at telling you that you are going too hard. Set an upper limit that you will not exceed and monitor that as you go.
3. Leave your ego at home. Many years ago when I was working with a coach, he would prescribe my easy days with the comment, “Old women should pass you.” This was to set a goal for the workout, one that allowed me to get in the right mindset.
4. Remember the purpose of the workout. Rest is as important as stressing the body, and without it you will not improve. Think of an easy day as a chance to recoup and be ready for the big training sessions.
5. Trust your coach. Remember, there is a reason your coach puts easy sessions on the schedule.
While it can be hard to really go easy, if you fully commit to easy days it will demonstrate the effectiveness of the hard/easy combination. This will give you the confidence to go easy and help you improve as an athlete.
 
One of the things Coach AJ Johnson loves about coaching is that no two athletes are the same – even when their goals are. He views each person that he works with as a puzzle with unique abilities, motivators, lifestyle and potential. There’s nothing he enjoys more than helping someone incorporate the individual pieces to get the results they are looking for – because when it all comes together, it’s amazing!

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