Breaks are essential for performance and are important for motivation. Breaks come in many forms and a combination of the options should be put into practice. Firstly, in every weekly cycle you should have at least one full day of rest. This break is where the real benefits of training set in.
Next come the down cycles in your training programme. Professional athletes tend to reduce mileage and intensity every fourth week to allow a full recovery and to freshen up mentally. People who work full time jobs should do so every third week. These blocks of lower load are the magic in any training programme and the reason successful coaches do well.
The last form of rest/recovery comes after each goal race. The length and nature of the rest are dependant on how long the event was and how prepared you were for it. Racing a marathon should be followed by two to three weeks of shorter, easier runs and plenty of rest days. Ten- to 21km races need three to seven days of “down time” and ultra marathons need a month of complete rest/alternative training.
Lastly, you need to find two to four weeks in the year where you will do little running. You can do swimming or cycling if you really feel the need, but this should be a period of ill discipline.
Lindsey Parry is a qualified biokineticist, Two Oceans silver medallist and 2:52 marathoner. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org