As a coach and a professional triathlete I have been asked countless times throughout my triathlon career how I get the best out of my training, and what other professional triathletes do in order to perform at their best. There are so many ways you can help maximize your training to improve performance. My favorite, most neglected by some, and probably one of the most important aspects to help retrieve the biggest gains from your training is ‚Ä¶ to take naps! Most pro athletes might not want to admit it for fear of being labelled as lazy, but they heavily depend on this aspect of recovery to endure the toughest training schedules possible.
Triathlon is hard, it‚Äôs one of the hardest sports out there, which is why it‚Äôs essential to recover properly on a day to day basis. I don‚Äôt care, I admit it proudly ‚Ä¶ I love naps!
Nap whenever possible and as you become accustomed to napping it can elevate a struggling tiring week of dogged training workouts to a more consistent array of happy, smash-it-out sessions!
Believe it or not this is one of biggest differences that separates a pro athlete‚Äôs training schedule from an age grouper‚Äôs training schedule. I wouldn‚Äôt say that a ‚Äòpro‚Äô writes it in his/her training diary, but they sure know when they get up in the morning the goal come 1pm is to sneak off for a nap. It‚Äôs a ‚Äúdirty little secret‚Äù used more often than not by all the top performers across all sports. It‚Äôs widely underestimated and even scoffed at by those who ‚Äújust don‚Äôt understand‚Äù, but who cares? Whatever gets the best results from your training must become a priority and an integral part of your training routine.
I am so fortunate that I am able to structure my work around my training well enough to get an acceptable amount of this blissful discipline. If you have a full time job, or if you have children, I know it‚Äôs hard for you to fit this in around your schedule, but please try to make some time for yourself and refresh you body and mind. If you have a little spare time, even just once a week, do not feel guilty about throwing in a 30-60 min. nap ‚Äì make the most of it! I don‚Äôt mean snoozing on the couch whilst watching a movie. I mean put your ear plugs in, shut the curtains and get some quality rest ‚Äì even for just 15 mins.
Whether you race in the professional or age group category you can still train and act ‚Äòprofessional‚Äô. You‚Äôre the CEO of your training and racing performance, so treat it like it‚Äôs your business. By this I mean doing everything you possibly can to get the best out of yourself, your training and your racing. On a week end, or an early return home from work, don‚Äôt waste your time by watching tv or playing on the iPad.
If you don‚Äôt feel tired, go to bed anyway, lie there and relax and my bet is you‚Äôll be sleeping soundly within ten minutes. I see some age group athletes and even pro‚Äôs alike spend $3,000 ‚Äì $10,000 on a fantastic bike with the best race wheels! They spend copious amounts of money on traveling to races only to neglect a true key performance enhancer known as sleep. Naps are one of the most effective ways to recover and improve your performance‚Ä¶and it‚Äôs free! You can buy the best gear, but you can‚Äôt buy sleep, and it‚Äôs the most important of all.
I‚Äôm not saying you should bunk off a tough bike ride for a nap if you‚Äôre tired. Do all the training, that‚Äôs critical, but schedule in specific rest periods. You might get some grief from your significant other, but if you do, show them this article and suggest they research the effects of ‚Äúpower napping‚Äù. It can make all the hard work worth it.
There are a huge array of benefits to athletes associated with napping between training sessions, such as the capacity to control inflammation, improve recovery time from training and injury, (which we‚Äôre more susceptible to when sleep-deprived), help boost our immune systems, improve reaction time, elevate moods, assist in regulating carbohydrate craving and help regulate weight gain and blood pressure. In addition to this, our skin cells multiply at a much greater rate as well as a higher level of human growth hormone being released during the deeper stages of sleep (naps of 90 mins. will include rapid eye movement, REM sleep). Hence‚Ä¶better recovery! Fortunately, for me, Friday is usually the day I can sneak in a soothing nap between workouts.
My day would look something like this:
5:45am ‚Äì 7am VO2 speed swim, quick sauna, and home.
7:40am Breakfast of 3 eggs on toast (and bacon, beans and whatever else, who I‚Äôm kidding) with coffee.
9am ‚Äì 12pm 3hr bike ride around the beautiful roads in CO!
12:05pm ‚Äì 12:40pm. Drink, quick lunch of whatever last nights leftovers might be and a speedy shower. No messing around wasting time ‚Ä¶ BED!
12:40pm ‚Äì 1:30pm-ish! Shut the curtains, set alarm and relax! Ten minutes, I‚Äôm ASLEEP! Love it.
1:30pm ‚Äì 3pm Wake up feeling groggy for 5 mins., but after 10 mins. I feel awesome! I‚Äôll connect with clients, have a small snack/drink, and prepare myself for a run.
3:15pm ‚Äì 4:15pm Run around Longmont, racing my dog Lady.
4:15 ‚Äì 6:00 Drink, stretch, ice shins, perhaps have a gel or snack. Go shopping, buy some wine.
6pm ‚Äì Hot bath filled with epsom salts.
6:30 ‚Äì Eat, drink wine, watch the Voice and relax! JOB DONE! Train smart, race fast!