I ride my bike, which is attached to a stationary wind-resistant trainer, grounded atop a plateau offering panoramic views of snow-capped Pyrénées peaks. I breathe crisp, thin mountain air. I listen to cowbells, not an iPod. I’m fairly certain I’m the first person to do wind-trainer workouts in this spot. This is my 25th consecutive day of bike workouts since my doctor gave me the green light to start physical activity this past December. I consult the timer on my phone for the first time during the ride; it’s already been 1 hour and 40 minutes. I get off the bike and prepare a mat on the grass for core and stretching routines. Tomorrow, I know I’d be happy to do this all over again.
As I recondition my body into running shape on the bike, I realize the importance of having a well-balanced training plan. To find joy and to be consistent in training requires a balance between stress and recovery. Training should stress the body and mind, then allow sufficient time to recover so one can adapt and grow stronger. One skill that I’ve learned to help me achieve this balance is what I call “pressing the reset button.” This means finding ways —on a weekly basis —to rejuvenate the body and mind during training. Listed below are three ways I’ve taught myself to press the reset button and train happily and consistently.
Change Your Environment
Changing the place, or even the time of day for a run, will aid in embracing the daily grind. It’s easy to lose motivation or become bored of training when running the exact same route day after day. At least once a week, I ride my wind trainer somewhere besides my house to get a change of scenery. I notice my mind and body feels refreshed when riding somewhere new.
Embrace Recovery Days and Follow the two Scoops of Peanut Butter Rule
One recovery day per week is essential to allow the body and mind to adapt to training. For me, a recovery day means a day completely off of sport, light cross training, or a day with roughly ⅓ of my normal training volume. On the recovery day, I’ve taught myself to embrace what I call the “2 Scoops of Peanut Butter Rule.” I like to remind myself that on recovery days my body needs energy to recover, so I allow myself to take two scoops of peanut butter from the jar instead of my normal one scoop (or two scoops of almond butter). If you’re not a fan of nut butters, this can also mean two scoops of gelato, two scoops of Nutella, two scoops of jam for your two giant waffles, two scoops of chia pudding or whatever it might be to give you the extra energy to recover. It may seem counterintuitive to eat more on the day with the least amount of physical activity in the week, but it’s an effective reminder why recovery days belong in the training process: training hard provides the stimulus for adaptations, and easy days are where the magic happens and one gets stronger.
Shakeout your Legs and Mind
Short “shakeout” runs or other light physical activities can help the body feel better after intense efforts. The length of the shakeout varies slightly based on an individual’s training volume, but for me I like anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes. The goal is to find a volume that doesn’t make you tired, but provides just enough stimulus to get the blood flowing.
Almost every night I ride easy on my wind trainer for 25 minutes. The shakeout helps flush out my legs from the longer effort earlier in the day. I walk away from the bike feeling less tired and excited about my workout the next day. I also like to think of the shakeout as an “engine check,” where I test my legs and mind to make sure everything feels good and ready to go for the next workout. Consider adding one shakeout 6 to 24 hours after a hard workout to flush out your legs and check your engine.