It took me many years to learn the importance of downtime. This year, I finally headed advice from Alan Couzens and took an entire month of complete rest.
Alan, Mike James, and many others know the importance of enjoying another 4-6 weeks, after the complete rest period, for really light, even unplanned exercise. This is sometimes known as the Transition phase.
Between time off and ‘soft’ month that’s 8 weeks of no training!!
It’s been an incredible experience for me these last 7 weeks to watch the progression in my mind and body as structures heal, the mind recharges, and hunger grows. I’ve had time to improve in other areas of my life that I’ve wanted to tackle; things that have been bugging me for decades.
After those initial 8 weeks, the athlete then moves into low structure, low volume, low-intensity work. This is often called the Preparation phase and can last for a month or two.
Six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, Mark Allen, also promotes a full break from training to ensure that the athlete can get the most out of their training and racing.
Once the prep is done, then, and only then, should the first Base phase begin, which usually lasts between 4-12 weeks depending on current fitness, years of consistent & healthy training, and race season goals.
As a coach, I have often have to balance what I know to be the best for the athlete (based on my own experience & knowledge, and the years of experience and knowledge from trusted experts in exercise physiology, bio-energetics, physiotherapy, and research science in the areas of sleep, nutrition, etc.) and what the athlete feels.
The point is that Stress has to have Rest in order for there to be Growth. This principle applies daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.