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Got a case of the Mondays? We feel you. Though the first day of the work week is universally hated, Mondays can be particularly tough on triathletes.
“The working triathlete lives for the weekend. We train like crazy for two days in a row, then the weekend ends. After a 48-hour thrashing, it’s understandable that your body and brain are not super excited about Monday’s demands.” says coach Jesse Vondracek of Top Step Training. He would know—for six years, Vondracek raced professionally while teaching high school full-time. His tips for making Mondays suck less:
Start your weekend off right. “As a full-time triathlete and full-time worker, you can’t always afford the same weekend rights as others,” says Vondracek. “You need to be focused the entire time.” In other words, your weekend mindset should kick in on Friday night, not Saturday morning. Eat a nutritious dinner, prep all your gear and nutrition for the weekend, and get to bed early.
Make recovery a constant. Weekends aren’t just for training—most of us have errands, chores and family obligations between the workouts. The cumulative effects of your weekend activities can take a toll on your body, so self-care is a must: If you have a long drive to visit the grandparents after your long run, wear compression and take a water bottle. While doing yard work, take breaks often to stretch.
Bookend your workouts. Vondracek suggests 10 to 15 minutes of activation work (like drills or dynamic warm-ups) before a hard session, followed by 10 to 15 minutes of recovery work, like stretching or foam-rolling at the conclusion. Taking this extra step on Saturday and Sunday can help keep your body from feeling wrecked on Monday.
Decelerate. Your muscles will feel fresher at the start of the week if your final workout on Sunday is not hard. For most athletes at Top Step Training, Vondracek schedules an easy spin or easy short swim on Sunday afternoons. This increases blood flow and can help the body recover before Monday morning rolls around.
Eat. A calorie deficit created during weekend workouts can weigh you down come Monday. “Proper hydration and nutrition during and after longer workouts is something we all know about, but don’t always practice,” says Vondracek. “If you don’t eat, you will recover poorly and feel like crap on Monday.”
Drink water. Dehydration may be the culprit behind your Monday morning brain fog. Studies show that even slight dehydration is enough to cause moodiness, problems concentrating, headaches and fatigue. “If I am ever feeling tired, especially on a Monday morning, the first thing I do is chug a glass of water, then reevaluate,” says Vondracek.
Skip the victory beer. “After you spent the last two days putting micro-tears on all your muscles, alcohol is not doing you any favors—unless you like feeling like crap,” says Vondracek. “Even one drink can affect your sleep. It hurts your body’s ability to recover. Basically, you are dumping empty calories into starving muscles on Sunday and wondering why they hate you on Monday.”
Sleep. If you’re training hard, you may need more than the standard eight-hour recommendation for adults. Vondracek suggests taking a nap after major sessions and establishing a sleep routine: “If you need to go to bed at eight, have the TV off by seven. Read a book, chat, take a Epsom salt bath or do something to unwind that keeps you unplugged from the world and starts your mind and body’s journey towards sleep.”
No, really, sleep: One of the biggest mistakes Vondracek sees is triathletes foregoing sleep to cram a few more extra hours into the weekend. The best-laid plans of early-to-bed triathletes are often thwarted by a simple episode of Game of Thrones: “Stay in the routine of going to bed early! The show will be on on Netflix or HBO Go, and you can find out what happens later.”
End your weekend on Monday morning. Vondracek says Monday trainings should be not be considered a start to the new week, but an end to the weekend: “My mindset every weekend is that the last session of the weekend is not Sunday afternoon, but Monday morning when I go to Masters swim. Keeping this mindset all the way through that Monday workout makes the recovery you need to do on Sunday seem natural, not forced.”