I think endurance athletes are loosing touch with things a bit in particular their common sense. Often times I hear athletes say they were exhausted and wonder to myself, "why are they going to attempt a workout today". Now I know sometimes one can become tired from training and you need to stress the body from time to time to gain some improvement. But, if you had just raced an IM a little over 3 weeks ago and I am hearing you say you're are exhausted, don't ya think it might be better to take the day off instead of creating more fatigue which continues to delay the full recovery process.
People, when are you going to get it? Do you need to be sick, fevered and injured before you stop training or take a much deserved break? I am seeing this more and more with age group athletes who train like professional athletes, while working a full time job. Sure you can train like them in a physical way, but there is no way you are going to recover like they do because you just don't have that much free time for naps, weekly massages and general downtime to rejuvenate. Some age group athletes eventually gets to the point of being so run down from lack of adequate rest, combined with pushing their training limits, that even a 3 week taper is not going to bring them to race day fully prepared. Always better to be 10% undertrained than 1% over trained when going into your priority races for the season.
Take the runners from Kenya, when they are done for the season, they are done. Some will not run for 2 or 3 weeks some not even for a month. They just take a complete break, no cross training, just total downtime. I belief this downtime allows them to maintain the focus and intensity when they are training. Most elite Kenyan runners run 2 times a day and some 3 times a day. They usually start with a morning run around 6am, after that return to bed to rest for the main session around 10am. Lunch and more rest and some will run again in the afternoon. Now I know this is the elite, but my point is by having the real downtime, it allows them to hit a very high level focussed bit of training when called for.
In the western world, 2-3 weeks of downtime is going to drive the type A athlete and those around him/her completely NUTS! I have written about this before and will continue to do so in future posts, TRAINING IS RECOVERY BASED! Easy means easy, hard means hard, day off means, day off. Combine that with some common sense and you may just reach your next goal healthy and happy. Pay attention to your self talk. Are you saying "I have to workout" vs "I want to workout" When the have to's start becoming the norm, overtraining, burnout and injury are getting bigger in the rear view mirror for sure.
If you need help, get it. There are plenty of great coaches out there who can help you balance the training load with all your other activities. Don't be afraid to do a little less especially if this is supposed to be your off season.
Make it a great week!