Monday, August 15, 2011

The 5th Discipline

Even the fastest rest
As triathletes, we spend an awful lot of time swimming, biking and running.  After all, doing something over and over again to get better at it is pretty much how things work.  So we swim.  We bike.  We run.  And then we repeat this cycle at least a zillion times.  The more savvy triathletes among us also practice transitioning from the swim to the bike and from the bike to the run.  This is very smart because fast transition times mean faster race finishing times.  And faster finishing times means extra bragging rights on the blogs and triathlon Internet forums.  Swimming, biking, running and transitions are universally accepted at the 4 disciplines of triathlon.

A Google search and/or hiring a coach will result in more advice than you'll ever need when it comes to swimming, biking, running and transitions.  What about recovery, though?  Pretty much everyone is aware that rest is important.  But beyond a general acknowledgement of the importance of recovery, there is very little information about how to actually go about it.  This is unfortunate.  Because while resting, the countless hours spent training start to pay off - you get stronger with rest.  There are many ways to rest, and one of my favorites is simply just sitting on my ass.

The 5th Discipline in action
I take sitting on my ass very seriously.  In fact, I'm doing it right now - I'm kicked back and my feet are up.  I have a laptop balanced on the right arm of the couch and the universal remote is on the seat cushion to my left.  The TV isn't on yet, but I guarantee you that this will change within 15 minutes.  I haven't decided whether I'm going to check out what's on Universal Sports or rent a movie from OnCommand.  Either way I'm not worried, because I'm not going to have to move an inch to do it.

On the coffee table in front of me sits a sliced apple and a bottle of sparking water.  But the truth is I might not get around to touching them.  Because to get to them I would have to move about 2 feet.  Though I usually don't consider moving 2 feet getting off my ass, it's still farther than I feel like moving tonight.  Luckily there is a bottle of still water on the table behind me.  It's within easy reach, so I'll be able to stay hydrated.

As I do with my workouts, I try to start with a clear scope and objective for my ass sitting sessions.  For example, my plan tonight was to get on the couch (scope) and not move (objective).  I've always felt that it's very important to try and include those close to you in your world of triathlon, so I told Mary that she was more than welcome to join me.

Sitting on your ass should not be considered "active recovery" - you still have to do easy swims, bike rides and runs.  Rather, sitting on your ass should be considered "active passive recovery" because it requires a conscious decision on your part to do absolutely nothing.  Conversely, sleeping is "passive recovery".  Although going to sleep usually requires some modicum of conscious thought, the benefits of sleep do not manifest themselves in the same ways they do when you are sitting on your ass.  Because when you sit on your ass, the sheer joy of same introduces a significant layer of mental satisfaction into the equation as your body works to achieve homeostasis.

It's likely that as the knowledge base about triathlon continues to grow, most of it will continue to focus on swimming, biking and running.  However, don't let this deter you from sitting on your ass.  The good news is that with a little bit of practice involving a lot of sitting on your ass, you will become an expert in no time.  Enjoy!





31 comments:

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

This is some solid information Patrick. In fact, today's workout will involve moving my end table a little closer to my couch so I will not be doing active recovery while reaching for water/beer. Extremely useful information!

Happy recovery to all!

XLMIC said...

Barefoot ass-sitting…

So with this ass-sitting, what gear is involved? Universal remote and t.v. Beverage and snack of choice. Sofa. Anything else? Does reading trashy mags or perusing catalogs adequately take the place of t.v.-watching? Or is the turning of pages too "active"?

Rest and recovery are definitely not given enough attention by most athletes. It's the paranoia of 'missing' something, I think. We would all do well to heed this wise advice.

ShutUpandRun said...

I have no problem with SOMA.

I guess that would make my 6th discipline pooping.

The Green Girl said...

I am very, very weak in this area. Good thing I have blogging and Facebook.

misszippy said...

Sitting on one's ass is totally underrated. It's so hard for us to do, but it is crucial.

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

This happens to be one of my stronger disciplines. In fact, I think I'll go do this now. Thanks for the shove.

Tri4Success said...

I would be laughing my ass off but this is precisely the approach I take. Darn it, my coach put rest day on my calendar and it has a little icon of a guy reclined under a beach umbrella .... I'll just assume that position in the MUCH cooler indoors. Now if only I could get my wife and oldest son to understand the importance of chilling out. My youngest gets it. I know when his legs are tired because he'll prop them up on a pillow.

Emz said...

ass sitter.

you listed on ebay yesterday? stay out of my world. I own ebay.

lazy ass.

Colleen said...

Ass sitting is the only discipline that I feel like I excel in! :)

Aimee said...

Sitting on your ass is definitely part of the 5th discipline!!!

Jason said...

I podium every Friday since that is true recovery day and I have gone to great lengths to ensure that it is 48 hours of recovery.

I train at the wee hours on Thursday and then don't do jacksh*t until early Saturday morning giving me a full 48 hours of a$$ sitting and doing nothing.

Yup, please pass the water and my medal.

Jennifer said...

I spent all day yesterday doing the 5th! I am very good at it, unfortunately mine also included a bag of chips so I have to get back to the first three to make up for it, and fast!

Jill said...

I have been sitting on my ass way too long, can I distribute some of that time to others?

Caratunk Girl said...

Yeah, I have been sitting on my ass since my IM basically. I need to cut that crap out. BUT it is such a KEY part of recovery/training like you said for sure. I just get a little too good at the 5th - seriously, if it were swim, sit on your ass, run, I would totally win.

Kate said...

Active passive recovery. I love it.

Mike said...

Maybe we should start logging couch time too. I keep the stick next to my couch and roll out the knot in my calf when it acts up.

Cory Reese said...

I like your style. That's my kind of active recovery.

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

I will make sure to sit on my add tomorrow at the beach!

Her Name Is Rio said...

active passive recovery- nice!

Lora said...

Terrific!

Chris K said...

One of my favorite all time song lyrics....from Bon Scott (RIP) on Downpayment Blues:

I know I aint doing much, doing nothing means alot to me.

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Keep on keeping on, we're following you
hugs,
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