Racing season is here (or getting closer and closer) for most of us and weather is warming up, which means weekends are probably being devoted to long rides and runs or full days at the races. But here’s the thing: While that’s sustainable for a few weeks in a row, most of us need a ‘down’ or light weekend just to catch up on, you know, life.
It’s not even the sexy stuff like full-on home renovations or a weekend off for lounging around that I’m talking about. It’s the boring stuff, like cleaning the bathrooms, doing your taxes, washing your sheets, maybe swapping your winter and summer clothes out, and frankly, even catching up on time with the family (or with your non-athletic friends). I’ve noticed that this is the time of year we tend to starting cramming, because our races are coming up or because we’ve been cooped inside all winter. It’s easy to skip the rest weekend in favor of another long ride or run because the sun is out. I’m super guilty of this, especially when friends are doing fun, exciting runs. But I’ll be the first to say that I’m trying really hard to a) stick to my training, which has lower key weekends every few weeks, and b) trying to make sure I have room for the life stuff that needs to get done, like studying for my citizenship test, prepping my taxes, and even the more fun stuff like actually doing a face or hair mask on occasion.
It always feels a little annoying for me, because if I’m taking a weekend where I’m not running much, I want to be doing something BIG, but really, it’s the little tasks that add up to a massive to-do list that need the doing. A bathroom reno can wait, steam cleaning our carpet shouldn’t. But honestly, the other weekend, I actually took the time and cleaned the fridge from top to bottom, and I have to tell you, it felt AMAZING.
We talk a lot about the need for recovery, but often from a purely physiological perspective. I would argue that most of us need those rest weeks more for life than we do for actual physical recovery. When training and racing aren’t your full-time job, it’s almost impossible to keep all the balls in the air between work, family, friendships, training and then all those little life details that get in the way.
So, if you can’t remember the last time you took a ‘life’ weekend, it might be time to dust off that to-do list and opt for the shortest version of training that you can do this weekend. Spend that extra time and energy getting things back to a level of order that makes you feel revved for the season, not stressed for the week ahead. I’ve noticed that taking at least one light week per month to focus on this is a huge help when it comes to dealing with the Sunday scaries, where you start stressing about the week ahead. If I’m in a huge block of racing and training, on the other hand, the weeks feel much more intimidating because I don’t have the time to do all those little errands, cleaning and home projects, and just life maintenance (sending birthday cards, buying presents, calling my parents for a relaxed chat, meal prepping) that I tend to flake on when there’s a 20-miler on the calendar.
While your legs might be ready to rock and roll for your long ride, if your mind is wandering to all the stuff that’s piling up at home, you’re probably not getting the most out of your long ride anyway. And if you’re skimping on sleep to make room for all the things, you’re probably setting yourself backwards, rather than moving in a healthy direction. So consider this your permission to put a life weekend on your schedule this month!
Pssst… we talk all about life + training integration in our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, right here: