My mind likes to see cause and effect. I need to see that something comes from something, and I have an inherent belief that something cannot come from nothing. That’s the big picture, and also the reason why certain things about training give me all sorts of mental consternation.
I recently picked up Sage Roundtree’s book, The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery (review coming shortly), and something she wrote really stuck with me and made me realize a few things. Specifically, she wrote about having faith in the fact that the body is benefiting and gaining fitness from recovery. However, to me, understanding that fact is much easier than letting my mind relax and not think that perhaps I should be doing more, or that I’m losing fitness while I’m not on the bike.
I came to the inevitable conclusion that a key part of effective training is to have faith in the methods you choose to employ. This is much easier said than done. Supposedly, all of the base training I’m doing now, with low HR and long easier efforts will make me faster in criteriums, where my HR is often through the roof, that are over in a matter of an hour at the most (usually 45 minutes). I’ve read literature explaining it. I’ve listened to coaches and more experience cyclists talk about it. But my brain still has issues reconciling some aspects of the periodization method with what it aims to achieve.
When training gets tough, the mental aspect of the game is easy. It is easy for the brain (at least my brain) to understand that hard training improves the functions trained. On the other hand, when rest week comes about, there’s some mental anxiety about how much rest is too much and what do I do to rest but not lose fitness at the same time.
I understand that rest is necessary, and I understand that rest is beneficial, and that a person can come out of rest stronger than having gone in it, but I struggle to put my mind at ease during the sedentary states of training, or states of training under low stress – like base, for example. I hope with time, as I learn more about how my body functions, periods of rest and base will in my mind become part of training. Right now, I will admit, I’m doing my best to go through the motions and hope they bring about the desired end result.