I did nothing yesterday - no riding, tried not to walk, just went to work, came home, fell asleep playing with my kid, and went to bed at 8:10.
My wife, family and friends were suitably aggrieved to have been deprived of my presence so early in the evening.
They were so upset they started thinking visibly, in Russian. Some of their thoughts made it into the picture.
I slept until about 6:00 this morning - an epic snooze for me. 5-6 hours is normal, 8 is long, 9 is The Sleep of Death. 10 hours? They call the ambulance and presume the worst.
Today I'm taking the day off, getting the house ready for a family visit, and hoping to sneak in a recovery ride. It's amazing how much rest it takes to recharge your batteries after an all out effort.
This got me thinking about the different kinds of rest.
In races and training, there are several kinds of rest, depending on what kind of racing you do and how you train.
In crits, there’s short term rest and recovery – that’s what you get in between turns, during the slow middle portions of the race. It lasts just long enough for you to think, “Thank God, I couldn’t survive another surge like that.” As soon as you form that thought, or it's cousin, "I'm glad we're slowing down for a bit," it’s time for another 15 second max power effort.
Then there’s long term crit rest, or Sprinter Rest. Sprinters sit in, chill out, and do things like sagging 30 feet before a turn then closing the gap by simply not braking. DO NOT get caught behind a resting sprinter, it will wreck your race through a weird form of Velonarcolepsy – soon you’ll find yourself needing a rest so bad you’ll pull yourself, slink to the car, head home and take a nap. And you won’t know why. Sprinter Resters typically start resting about three days before the race, depending on their tapering plan, and usually have a detailed race plan calling for the rest to end some time between when the bell sounds the final lap, and when people put their bikes on top of their cars to drive home. If they don’t have a good line, or a suitably skilled leadout, or if they just don’t feel like working (which is most of the time), they won’t work at all. Some particularly accomplished sprinter resters have been known to rest for weeks or even entire seasons at a time.
In roadracing, you may see Climber Rest, or Classic Roadracer Rest. They don’t actually rest in the normal sense. These little waterbugs die on the flatlands, where they wheelsuck fat and tall guys (who’d rather be sprint/crit resting) until they get to the hills. Then the climbers really die shooting up the hills. Unfortunately, if the hill is followed by a really long downhill, great climbers are so light they don’t descend well, so they have to work really hard to keep pace, otherwise the slow climbing, fast descending fat & tall flatlanders will pass them near the bottom of the descent, coasting at 60 MPH and enjoying a long rest, hooting and hollering, and stuffing their faces with food, a material that true climbers only know about in theory.
In truth, the only time a true climber really rests in the normal sense is when he is too injured to ride, while he’s lying in the back of an ambulance weeping. Which explains why so many guys crash out in mountain stages – they just need a rest. Besides, who wants to start at Magnus Backstedt’s ass for 2600 kilometers of flatland in
In cross, there are a couple types of rest. The classic style is known as Enter Sandman. It’s what happens when a guy or gal who is way too good enters a class they have no business racing in. That’s right – no business, for them it’s only pleasure. The Sandman then rides away from the pack and cruises to win easily, often lapping or nearly lapping second place. They then tell everybody they are racing, but we know the truth… they are just resting. Some day, they’ll ride in a class appropriate to their talent and fitness level, but for now, they’re just restoring themselves. Like Joe Friel says, rest is important, and the Sandmen, they know this and take it to heart more than most of us.
The next kind of cross rest is the Microrest – the 10 or 15 seconds you get when you hit the one spot on the course you love and find easy. If you are a mountain biker, these are usually technical parts. You just relax, flow through them, and ride faster than the guys riding hard. A roadie in the same section is burning roughly 43 times the calories, with clenched butt, wide eyes, white knuckle grip, and a complete inability to carry speed. In fact, a really accomplished roadie can reduce the most beautiful stretch of flowing single track into a 100 repetition sprint interval, if you let him.
But when the muddy spiked shoe is on the other foot, however, all bets are off. Mountain Rest on the cross course almost always terminates in Half Mile Leadout rest. Yes, when the roadies hit the tar, it’s a quick standing effort, then a little 27 MPH spin for 800 meters. Yeah, a half mile paved road is a hard thing, but for roadies racing cross, this is as good as rest. Yep, sure, their legs burn a little… but they could do this all damn day if they had to, in fact they practice it once a week during road season, 10 x 1 minute 90% efforts. They are comfortable dancing down the road, flirting with the Red Zone but never crossing fully into it. Meanwhile, the same stretch is Mountain Man Hell, and the mountain man wonders if tar didn’t swallow all those dinosaurs in LaBrea. Don’t worry, Harry, you’ll get that little clean shaved bugger when he endos into the barriers.
This brings up another kind of cross rest – Not Dead, Only Sleeping. It’s what happens when you crash hard, lay there face down on the ground, and take an inventory to make sure all your limbs are still attached and working. Hah, you probably think I’m joking about this. I’m not. Sometimes, you take a little sleep at this point. Sometimes not. It's conceivable you may take the rest in a seated position; others prefer to lay on their back and count stars, while some prefer to sniff the grass as if it were a fine wine: "Dry... fruity... earthy bouquet... excellent."
A Range of Cross Racers Resting
A Range of Cross Racers Resting
Then we have a range of different types of training rest.
The there’s the rest you do on your off day. You don’t ride. Maybe you walk around the neighborhood dejectedly, thinking about stealing bikes off local kids tooling around on them, all carefree and not worried about the damage this will do to their Chronic Training Load, the bastards. Perhaps you wash your bike on rest day, caressing it lovingly, thinking about the next time you’ll be out together – just you and her, the wind in your hair, feeling the gentle curve of her seat, caressing her, um….
Where was I?
Oh yeah, then there’s recovery rides. Friel tells us a recovery ride should be at or below 70% of our maximum heartrate. The power training guys, Coggin and Allen and Lim, think it should be at less than .65 of Functional Threshold Power. Me, I think it should be going as slow as humanly possible, unless you spot somebody else in a local velo club jersey, in which case recovery pace is the highest pace you can maintain without your breathing becoming overtly ragged. It is essential that no matter how hard you ride, that you do not start breathing hard, so that if you get dropped you can loudly remind everybody that it's no big deal, you're resting today.
at Hains Point
I hope that this intro to the Wide World Of Rest has made you think about how important getting proper rest is, to your training. As for me... It's 2:25. I have the day off. I think it's time for a nap.