Listen to your body
Why is it then, that so many athletes become over-trained, burned out and sick? Why do we ignore these signs? We all feel them and we shouldn't need someone to tell us what they mean. The language is universal, it's your body's way of saying, slow down buddy!It is hard to stop training when your program calls for a hard session or maybe a long endurance ride. It's hard because you know that in order to become better you must train. If you don't get out and ride today, your body will be just a little bit weaker when the season starts. Or will it? Like many other athletes, listening to my body has never been something that I'm good at. I used to be a slave to my training log. If the program called for 30 hours this week, I would put in 30 hours. Regardless of weather, form and body signals. Regardless of anything. Come hell or high-water, 30 hours had to be accomplished. I would say - next week I will rest. Next week is an easy week for me, I just need to finish this week of hard training first.
Of course, my body would sometimes have other plans for me. And if I didn't listen to the early warning signs, then it would certainly make me aware by giving me an injury, illness or maybe even "overtraining". It's my body's way of slapping me in the face and telling me to wake up. I have come to understand and believe in the concept of "resting yourself into better form". Sometimes rest is what is required in order to become a better rider. But it really takes hard work to believe in that principal. It sounds so counter-intuitive. How can I get faster by staying off the bike?
You'll find the answer at the end of a season. Always have the "big picture" in mind, progress comes from a whole season of proper training. Not from 1 day or 1 week. Since the whole principal of getting better involves breaking down your body and then letting it build itself up past your previous level, it can be hard to differentiate between the good kind of tiredness and the bad kind. I, like most people, had to learn it the hard way.