What's Cool In Road Cycling

Rest Days: You Snooze You Lose?

– By Frank Overton – Now that racing has begun or is about to begin its time to go fast. You’ve lifted weights this winter, suffered through the horrible winter to put in your base miles, watched Tour de France re-runs in the basement on your trainer, and you’ve done countless intervals in Zone 5. What’s next? How about a rest day!

Huh? No really, seriously, what’s next? Well, cycling fans I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s what professional cyclists around the globe are doing. Taking it easy. Yup, recovery days. With the Spring Classics around the corner, and the NRC calendar heating up here in the States, pros on both sides of the pond are parking their bikes and hitting the couch. It takes discipline, it takes willpower, and it takes confidence in your training plan to park it on the couch for a day or two. But taking some well earned recovery days is a perfect way to come into your form for these all important races.

Wait a minute! You haven’t read about Lance’s epic day on the couch just days prior to the ’02 Amstel Gold on his website? It’s not glamorous to write about resting in your online diary and it’s also not a good idea to make your secret weapon public information. But rest assured everybody benefits from a rest day. I betcha’ right now Museeuw and his Quickstep teammates are all horizontal on the couch fresh off a massage daydreaming of La Primavera Rosa.

In all sincerity, a few well timed recovery days can make or break your early season race campaign. But in my opinion there is so much more to a recovery day than not riding your bike. For instance try these recovery tricks on your next recovery day:

-Plan ahead and schedule in a massage, a steam at the gym, or another relaxing activity
-Rent a DVD or video and park it on the couch for a couple of hours with your feet up
-Sleep in or try to get in an afternoon nap. Ideally, do both.
-Focus on another area of your training like your nutrition: cook yourself a great meal or better yet have someone cook it for you.
-Take care of all those things in life you put on hold in order to train.
-Take time to nurture and develop the relationships that are important to you whether it be your spouse, child, or friend. Bike racing is too hard without support!
-If you are still “crazy about the bike” try giving your second home some T.L.C. Wash it, Clean it, lube it, or take it to your friendly bike shop. Whatever you can do to ensure that your machine is good to go on race day.
-Catch up on your web surfing especially on PezCycling News.

Things NOT to do on your recovery day (we’ve all been guilty of these) :

-Work late to catch up from those days you left on time to go out a train.
-Take the city limit street sprint.
-Tag along with your buddies on “that climb”
-Shall we go on? You probably got the picture…

Ahhh, the life. These fascats know how to recover!

In summary as you prepare for your target races, do your intervals but don’t forget to take your recovery days. You need recovery days for the type muscle growth that it takes to win races.

Frank Overton

Frank is a USA cycling certified coach and category 1 road racer. He can be reached at his website
and may be found training around Boulder, Colorado or taking rest days on the couch!

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.