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  • Alison Maher & Dr. Kaustubh Radkar

Rest and the amatuer athlete

It was 1999 I was getting setting for All India University; we had a new coach with different philosophy. I had gone on Wednesday morning with intent of having a recovery swim session; I was told that was coming in the evening session, so I went through with the workout. I say I, because at that time I had no company, there was no group it was me and the pool at all times. When I showed up in the evening, the famous black board had workout listed, so I asked the coach what about me. I was told, this was the workout and no changes, I needed recovery, my mind & body needed recovery, so I asked what was told this morning. At that time the reply was “if you don’t want to do workout, go home.”

Talking back in India is a big NO NO, let alone turning your back but I knew my body better than anyone else so I went home. This is the only workout I have missed to date, my coach had called and I was reamed by my parents as soon as I got home.

So what happened at All India University that year, 5 gold medals, 50,100,200,400,1500 free all In the bag, water polo silver and the rest is history. When I was in the USA, in 2004 at our annual winter trip, I had switched from sprint, to mid distance to distance that week, one day my coach realized something was amiss and when I showed up to practice he told me to sit this one out. He had realized, I had not been rested properly and it could impact all the hard work of the season. I had all PB’s in my events that year my last year of swimming, and a back from 5th to 3rd place for our relay team which I anchored.

Rest and recovery are important factors for all athletes, I have NEVER met a coach or professional athlete who doesn’t invest in a rest day on a routine basis. My question to age group athletes is why can’t t we learn from them?. If the best of the best follow these practices, then why would age group athletes not follow the same? Sure you will say, they are professionals or trying to become professionals, they need this and that. But, they don’t have jobs like you and me, and in some cases no family commitments that would come before training. These extra ‘life’ elements are stressors. Our mental, physical and social stressors as athletes should not be ignored!

I see these challenges, I see these back to back races, do this, do that and I see people fall for it. Do you step back and think how this will affect you? Do you step back and think these challenges are mostly given by people without any athletic background, especially in coaching. A lot people fall for this thinking they will become “fit.” The big news that age group athletes often miss is that rest and recovery will make you even fitter,, training gains don’t just happen when you workout, they also happen when you rest and recover.

A female friend of mine, is also now a coach and top 10 age group Hawaii Ironman finisher. She has had stellar performances in the past but she has learnt a lot from her setbacks due to injury and illness, all coming about by not resting enough or doing ‘recovery’ sessions too hard. This resulted in her needing to take two years away from the sport of triathlon. I remember one year she raced in Australia and won her age group at the long course Australian championships, the next week she was back at training only 1 day after the race. She became sick the next week and injured a few weeks later.

As a certified coach I see what happened to my friend, a good athlete who should know better happening all the time! It is time to shake things up, the information that comes out on social media at times is quite disturbing, un-certified coaches using athletes as guinea pigs can have disastrous results as has been shown time to time. So if you want to have a stellar season in 2017, while you build base and get ready make sure you don’t ignore the most important aspect that is REST, cause that may be the difference in achieving your targets and sitting home watching others do. Happy training!!

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