Vary the intensity, physically and mentally.
Vary the intensity over the year. Vary the intensity over the race season. Vary the intensity over the week. Vary the intensity during each practice. Keep in mind you have different systems in training:
- Metabolic system (processing fuel)
- Muscular system (generating power)
- Motor Control system (directing that power with precision)
- Mental system (including attention, attitude, and emotions)
You can raise or lower intensity in practice for any of these systems.
You can provide an abundance of clean fuel and water, or work under a fuel-stressed system.
You can keep the muscle load within comfortable limits or work around your limits.
You can keep focus just enough to maintain your normal level of ease in the activity, or apply super-laser-focus to provoke higher precision than you’ve achieved before.
For example, you can have low-physical intensity and high mental intensity – like your first TI workshop! Or you can have a high-physical intensity, with moderate mental intensity – like going for a longer-than-normal swim with a few ease-inducing focal points in mind.
There are also different kinds of rest. There is passive rest and there is active rest. A day-off is a form of passive rest. A slow swim, a low-intensity drill or a walk is a form of active rest. Low-intensity practice can be a form of rest also. You can still practice without exhausting your body. One does not need to go hard on all three, four, five, six days a week, and that is not advised either.
Switching from one focal point to another gives one part of the brain rest while another is working. Switching from one activity to another gives rest to some sport-specific systems or parts of the body, while others are working. You can be resting in one way while remain productive for some part of your sport in another.
It is not just my bias as a swim coach, but swimming is your best way to take active rest from your other sports. Its gentle for the body, helps flush the systems, and soothes the brain. A short day in the pool without an agenda or intensity – just move gently and enjoyably – is a great way to take a wet rest-day in the middle of your normal weekly practice routine.
You may notice how all our practice plans in the Dojo follow this principle of variety as rest It is just one way you can build variety of activity and intensity into your week. It is a way you can create a relatively balanced training diet, balanced in skills, fitness and intensity levels, with lots of room for customization.