You hear this one all the time: “listen to your body”. What I say is: “listen to your body, and figure out what you did wrong”. Many athletes use the 1st line thought process over and over again and believe they are making the right, intelligent training decision and stop training because they feel slogged. This works over the short-term but over the long term results in two things:
1) Less training consistency because of missed days.
2) The root of the problem not being solved (i.e. bad training protocol, bad nutrition, or bad sleep).
If you have a solid training protocol set up at the correct stress level with the correct cycles of recovery (meso, macro, and micro), and you cover the details (sleep and nutrition), there’s no real reason to feel slogged in the first place. If you do, go back and review what went wrong; don’t just blindly take an off day. Was it missed sleep, bad nutrition, hydration, bad workout fueling….etc? Athletes that think they are smart by taking days off when they feel crappy actually made a mistake somewhere in the details and then back it up with a missed training day. This sounds like the average Joe; eating bad food, not sleeping, and not training. It doesn’t sounds like a top triathlete.
I see it all the time with the athletes I coach. While talking to one of them on the phone, the athlete says “I just didn’t have it on Sunday so I took an off day to recover”. Most would reply, “good move, it happens, I’m sure this allowed you to recover and the next workout will be great. Way to listen to your body…keep up the good work”. Instead of that, I reply: “What did you do wrong in the days or hours leading up to that session that caused you to feel that way? Was it lack of sleep, bad pre fueling, bad recovery nutrition following the previous workout, or bad workout fueling? We know your training protocol is good so there is no reason for this to happen if you are covering the details”.
In summary, two wrongs don’t make a right. If you take it to the extreme, an athlete eats bad and never sleeps, so gets rewarded with an off day training. Does that make sense? For you, if this happens, go back and review what caused the sluggishness and make it never happen again so you don’t miss a training day. Remember, consistency is king.