I don’t recommend a complete day off during the final week before an Ironman. But if you must have one, then take it two days out from the race. Most endurance athletes will feel terrible the day after a rest day, as if something is not quite right. It takes the athlete’s body a day or so to get back into the groove.
In fact, the habit of taking a rest day the day before a race is the major reason triathletes so often feel a little bit off on race day. That said, taking a rest day before an Ironman really is a personal thing, and you can only know from experience whether you gain or lose from it. You are better off scheduling a rest earlier in the week if it usually takes you a few days to feel normal again.
On the final day before the race, do a 10-minute routine in each discipline to make sure that everything is set for race day. This is a little test drive for your body but also for your race equipment—check your gears, goggles, wetsuit, etc. Once that is completed, you’re ready to go!
Alun “Woody” Woodward is the certified Ironguides coach in the U.K. and Hungary. Visit Ironguides.net.