Editor’s note: Monica is undertaking the “Couch to Route Hero” challenge of riding all 67 “free-ridable” Zwift routes (and getting all the badges) in 11 weeks. Each week she shares her story of the previous week’s struggles and accomplishments. Follow along on her journey, take the challenge yourself, and be sure to give her a Ride On if you see her on course!

I’ve found there are two horrible things about taking an active rest week. The biggest one is that you can’t eat as much as you do on the big ride weeks. Sad. The second is the feeling of guilt and sadness as you pine for your bike. “It’s okay, little bike. I’ll be back. It’s not you, it’s me.”

On Monday I rode the Volcano Climb route for the badge and while I did finish I just didn’t have anything in me for that ride. Both Sunday and Monday I had a sore throat and general fatigue. Also, my left hip/lower back/leg weren’t really happy with me anymore. A handful of people had told me I might consider a rest week in the middle of this 11-week challenge and it seemed my body was beginning to agree with them. So with bravery I resigned myself to an active rest week. 

The Rides Lined Up

Because I didn’t decide until Monday that I’d take time off I did end up getting one badge this week, making that 48 done!

Route completed: Watopia’s Volcano Climb

The ACTIVE part of the rest week

Wednesday I rode Watopia’s Tick Tock (which I already have the badge for). It took me 47 minutes as I forced myself to stay in Zone 1. That was HARD to do! I averaged 71 watts, trying to keep my heart rate between 105-110bpm. Haha! Was I even riding?

Thursday I walked outside. It was a warm, sunny day here in Northern California. As I was about to leave I called up to Eric, “I’m going on a walk!” He yells. “Have fun!” I inform him, “I won’t have fun. It’ll be slow. I’m walking. Slow isn’t fun! Fast is fun!” And there it is, folks! My first time finally realizing what Zwift’s new tagline meant! Fast is fun! So true!

On Friday I rode Innsbruckring. A whole 8 miles on the bike since I was trying to stay in Zone 1 again. I averaged 81 watts, this time with a goal of keeping my heart rate between 110-120. That kept me just inside Zone 1 but let me push the ride just a little bit more than when I rode Tick Tock.

Saturday found me itching to just ride again already. I no longer had a sore throat or fatigue. My body was feeling better after going to the chiropractor on Wednesday. He said I must use my left side more as my hip was so tight it was rotating my entire pelvis in that direction anytime I moved. No wonder I was in pain! Since I was feeling better by now I really had to resist the temptation to give a real effort. Instead, I stayed in a lower Zone 2: 115-125 bpm, averaging 81 watts.

The NON-ACTIVE part of the rest week

I found I was really behind on some projects at home and at work since I started this whole challenge. Riding was consuming more and more of my time so each of my real jobs were being done more sloppily. This week I caught up on projects. What a relief!

I also decided that my brain really needed a rest week as well. Remember the time I almost jumped out of my skin during a ride because of Eric sneezing while I was intensely concentrating? This was my week to let the brain relax. So I quit berating myself over food choices and I ate a piece of cake mid-week. And I sat out in the sun during some of my lunch times instead of trying to catch up on work while I ate. And I put my loud cycling music on while I cleaned instead of listening to a podcast. Little things that made a difference to me.

Lastly, I was intentional about doing what my chiropractor told me to do: use the Accugun on my hip and IT bands, do plank exercises, and continue to stretch my legs for long amounts of time. 

What I learned

This is the first time in my entire life I’ve ever started to get sick and was able to stop myself from it. Between the active rest week, taking my supplements, praying and sleeping well things turned around for me! So exciting!

It was apparent in the first half of the week that I was slacking off about drinking lots of water. Drinking lots of water during a rest week is still important. I ramped that back up.

And my biggest aha moment came when Eric told me one key system the body uses when trying to recover from hard effort rides: the immune system! THIS EXPLAINS SO MUCH! 

Coming up this week

Since I already rode one of Route Badge Quest routes this week I’ll finish up with the other 4. Likely riding Tour of Fire & Ice, Greatest London Loop, Surrey Hills, and the 2018 UCI Worlds Short Lap in Innsbruck. 

Coming up this month: London PRL Full

I’m planning to do a world-wide group effort on the London PRL Full! Read all about it here and start preparing now to join me!

How about you? 

What did you do this week?