There are typically two types of people when it comes to recovery days.
The first revel in their days off. They kick back, let the diet slack and enjoy the time they spend relaxing giving both their muscles and mind a warranted break.
The second category of individuals loathe their day off. Often victims of exercise addiction, these people can feel anxious and moody without their daily dose of adrenaline rush.
And yet, as an athlete who endeavors to be a serious competitor, giving your body a break is of paramount importance when training for any triathlon or racing event.
Let's clear up one major misconception regarding recovery days. A recovery day does not translate to doing nothing. Many health and fitness professionals would agree that our bodies are designed to be active each and every day. Certainly such activities as light walking, biking, swimming or stretching are all examples of movement that can and should be done on your recovery day.
Increasing your heart rate, encouraging some labored breathing and breaking a sweat are things we can stand to do each and every day. The key is to not go overboard. Your training plan should include heavy work days, speed days, and light work days. Do not confuse your recovery day with a light work day. Timed intervals and/or carefully measured repetitions and sets really don't have a place on your day off.
And of course, there is a flip side to the above-mentioned recovery day scenario. A really challenging, strenuous workout or race can and should be followed with a recovery day where no physical exercise is done. Listen to your body! If you feel too much overall fatigue and exhaustion it makes complete sense to spend the day recumbent.
In fact, muscle tissue needs to repair, rebuild and strengthen, so it behooves you to allow your body enough time to do so. Energy stores have often been depleted and fluids have been lost. Use your recovery day to properly rehydrate and consume meals to restore glycogen (a combination of both carbohydrates and protein).