October 8, 2020 at 1:12 pm #8684
For a time-pressed, experienced 50+ year old age group triathlete (for example doing the 70.3 Level 2-3), is there much of a difference in race day fitness if someone were to periodically or regularly substitute a day off for an easy/recovery day in a training plan? In other words, 5 days training, 2 days off per week, vs 6 days training and 1 day off per week, presumably with the same number of identical hard workouts in a week? Taking a day off would free up significant time to take care of the other things in life (work, family) for the 5 remaining quality training days, but is there a quantifiable downside (lower fitness on race day)? This would change the ratio of easy to hard minutes in a week, but doesn’t a day off count someway like an easy day?October 8, 2020 at 9:57 pm #8689David WardenKeymaster
Ted, thanks (again!) for posting on our Forums. It makes it so much easier to scale our answers, and we get an amazing amount of people who search the Forums.
The only disadvantage is that you would be throwing off our carefully crafted 80/20 ratios. When you remove an easy workout altogether, you are taking out an hour (or so) of easy, which skews the 80/20 ratios to something 77/23 for the week. It depends on the week, but it could be much less or more than that. To compensate, you’d want to cut back by 12 minutes (20% of an hour) of moderate/hard work at another point in the week. But, honestly, 78/22, 80/20, 82/18…. it’s all really, really close. If you can make the adjustment, great. If not, no worries.
I think a better solution is to switch to a lower level that already has 2 days off a week. If you are on a Level 1, get a Level 0 (you can switch any paid 80/20 plan for any other Level at https://www.8020endurance.com/contact/) Check out our Level Comparison Charts at https://www.8020endurance.com/run-level-comparison/ and https://www.8020endurance.com/triathlon-level-comparison/ which can help you decide which plan is right for you, and we have plenty of Levle 0 plans that have 2 days off a week.
DavidOctober 9, 2020 at 12:08 pm #8698
Thanks, David. On the question of the 80-20 ratio and what impact on one additional recovery a day off has vs a Zone 1-2 day in its place, are there any scientific studies that are illuminating on this topic? A study that showed a group of athletes that did 1 less day of Z1-2 and took the day off, vs a schedule like the 6 days per week Level 1-3 plans? I know my resting HR routinely drops when I take a day off compared to the day before so it seems like there would be some value to restoration and recovery in a day off (and the side benefit of several more hours to do the other things needed in life.) I didn’t see footnotes or a bibliography in the book pointing to the studies mentioned (such as on page 3 “Carefully designed studies have revealed that they are indeed. Everyday athletes who work out as little as 45 minutes a day have shown to improve more when following the 80/20 Rule than when they train with greater intensity”)October 9, 2020 at 5:09 pm #8701David WardenKeymaster
I’m not aware of any studies reviewing the advantages or disadvantages of two rest days a week vs. one. I am aware of multiple studies that promote two key elements to training: the principle of frequency and the principle of hard/easy. These are somewhat competing but universal training truths, and balancing them is a key to our plans.
An extension of your question is, what about 3 rest days a week? What about 5 rest days a week? If 1 rest day is good, then 6 is better, right? We instinctively know that 4 or 5 rest days a week is wrong, but 2 rest days justifiably gives us pause. We intuitively know that too many rest days a week violate the principle of frequency.
But, to support the principle of hard/easy, we can’t run too much. We need recovery for fitness to increase.
OK, you’re real question was: in there any data on 1 rest day vs 2. I’m not aware of any. But, I think you are asking the wrong question. “Rest” should not be binary. It’s not necessarily 100% off or 100% on. “Rest” also means light Zone 1-2 exercise, which is abundant in 80/20 plans (it’s 80%!). What you really want to know is not how many rest days a week, but what the optimal intensity balance in a given week.
The answer to that is support by empirical evidence, and it’s 80% easy, 20% hard.
A training plan with 3 days off but 50% high intensity will introduce more fatigue than training plan with 1 day off an 20% high intensity. The 80/20 system is like getting free extra “rest” days because of the frequency of easy intensity.
This may blow your mind, but the number of rest days (days off) in our plans is actually a commercial decision. Athletes expect it. But, no pro takes a day completely off. They may have a day where they do a light 20-minute jog, but pros and elites train every single day, or at the most a day off every 10-14 days. Because pros use the optimal intensity balance (80/20) they don’t need a day off to get sufficient rest. They can maximize the principle of frequency while still maintaining the principle of hard/easy. Plus non-pros need that day off just o catch up on other responsibilities! A day off includes many other benefits unrelated to physiology.
DavidOctober 9, 2020 at 8:37 pm #8704
Thanks, David! I appreciate the thoughtful (and thought provoking) answer!
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