Tri Training NZ

What Happens When You Don’t Take A Rest Day?

Rest Days are important.

Have you ever worked 7 days per week in a job for an extended period of time without taking a day off? If you have you will then know how draining that is. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.  I am sure you can imagine how you might feel based on your experience of how you feel at the end of a typical 5 day working week.

Why do people try and train 7 days per week without taking a rest?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but will speculate that they adhere to the ‘more training is better’ philosophy. My personal coaching philosophy is based around ‘what is the least amount of training required to achieve the desired result ‘.

When I start working with a new athlete I ask what is the minimum amount of training that I need to prescribe to ensure that they reach and achieve their goal. The opposite way of thinking about this would be: How much training would it take to break this person?

Marathon Coaching NZEach person is an individual and will respond to training differently from the next. When I start coaching someone, I don’t know them very well, so I don’t know how their body responds to training.

But more importantly I don’t know where their breaking point it. I DON’T know what it takes to break them. Here I am trying to plan training that isn’t going to fatigue them too much, isn’t going to push them past their limits, but I don’t know what these limits are, because everyone is different.

What I do have is 16 plus years of professional coaching experience and another 7 or 8 years coaching experience on top of that. I have a range of tertiary qualifications including a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine and another one in Rehabilitation to fall back on. This knowledge and experience gives me a place to start from as I get to know the athlete and how they respond to training.

Every now and then, I get someone that doesn’t respond to training or their limits aren’t as high as what I expected. Over time I get to know the athlete and manage their training and recovery, to ensure that they get the best results out of them in the time available.

So lets go back to the heading question: What Happens When You Don’t Take A Rest Day?

A Rest Day is a way of moderating the training load. Each day you do some training, that training makes you tired and fatigued. When you sleep or rest you recover from this tiredness and fatigue. Depending on how much training you have done or how hard the training you did was, that sleep and recovery may or may not have been enough to fully recover from the training load.

You then do some more training and make yourself more tired and fatigued. And then you repeat the process of sleep and rest to either recover or partially-recover, then more training etc…

If you don’t have enough recovery then you get yourself more tired, fatigued and if you continue training you will eventually injure yourself or your body will force you into taking a break. Most people will manage to go for about 14 days before this occurs. Some people a bit more.  Some people a bit less.

To prevent things getting to this point I schedule a rest day into my athletes training every week. I keep it consistent and keep it on the same day each week. Some people prefer to have Monday as their rest day as they typically have a big weekend of training and need a day off to recover. Other people like to have it on a Friday so they can rest up and be fresh and ready for a big weekend of training. Then again, other people prefer it to be on another day of the week because that is what fits into their life.

I can hear some of you right now….going “Hold on Ray, but aren’t you encouraging people to do triathlon training for 100 days in a row and use the #100DaysOfTri hashtag?

And that is very true, I am.  If you want to find out more about it go to the Facebook group: 100 Days Of Tri. Ask to join the group and myself or one of the other admins will accept your request. BUT 100 DAYS OF TRAINING WILL LEAVE YOU TIRED AND MOST LIKELY BROKEN. 100 Days of physical training will leave you very tired and most likely broken. On my athletes rest day I get them to do non-physical training, so they are still doing something positive towards enhancing their performance. For the purposes of the #100DaysOfTri, non-physical sessions still count as training.

What is non-physical training?

Well non-physical training is NOT running, cycling or swimming!!! But it can be something like stretching, working on any areas of tightness to stretch out the muscles that have been worked during your training thus assisting with minimising injury risk and increasing the range of motion at a joint by allowing greater freedom of movement through the muscles, relaxation etc….

Yoga is a great way of employing stretching or flexibility work into your programme.  It is also quite restful with meditation aspects. It has been a while since I’ve deliberately included Yoga into my own workouts, but I have been doing so on and off for 25 years. There are a range of great YouTube channels out there, so have a bit of a search on YouTube and try some out. If you find some you enjoy, please add a link in the comments section below so everyone can take advantage of them.

In Summary:

  • Rest Days allow you to recover and regenerate.
  • Rest Days prevent you getting too tried and fatigued that can lead to injury or a forced break from training.
  • Include non-physical training on your Rest Day for enhanced results.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant and is a prominent triathlon and marathon coach in New Zealand.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

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For more great workouts see Coach Ray’s eBook: ‘Top 10 Workouts from Coach Ray – The Ten Most Popular Training Sessions from”.  Use the workouts within the eBook to enhance your fitness.

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