The biggest mistake I see endurance athletes make is sabotaging rest and recovery periods by either riding when they shouldn’t or doing way too much and applying a training load when they would be better served by resting. I understand the need to mow the lawn, walk the dog, and clean out the garage but you should try to dedicate sometime from all of your recovery and rest days to actually recovering and resting. I know…crazy talk huh? Its really not that hard. Just do something that allows you to rest physically and mentally for as much time as you can and recover as hard as you train. Lounge on the couch, doing something you enjoy outside of your sport, take a friggin’ nap!
One very useful strategy is to combine your hard days with some of those daily chores. I know its counter intuitive but if you combine your hard days, both in sport and daily life, you can also combine your rest and recovery to make both days more effective. This is also true for combining ancillary strength work into your typical endurance work. Do your strength work on the same days as your hard endurance days to allow you to actually take an easy day to allow for recovery. The alternative is beating yourself up on continual basis and never allowing yourself to recover to the point that you can not actually go “hard” in your key workouts. The days become “kind-of-hard” and never stressful enough to cause the maximum physiological adaptation.
The same phenomenon happens to the athlete that never goes easy enough on their easy recovery or endurance days and as a result carries extra fatigue into their quality workouts. They end up getting sub-par performance on those hard days and thus sub-par results. Roll that up through a season and you get a stinky pile mid-pack finishes and never reaching your true potential. Change the pattern to change the results.
Most of us will get one super high quality workout a week that will give us 80% of our gains. If your tired going into that workout you won’t maximize you work potential or the results from that workout. Give yourself the opportunity to be your best.