Jay Johnson wrote this question in response to my original Training Rhythm post:
Are you ever putting days back to back that are both challenging, but metabolically or neuromuscularly different?
Yes to a certain extent, but not on a consistent basis. I also think that when you do this that the third day must be a real recovery day. For me it really depends on the training block we are in at the time. If we are in a foundation phase with lower intensity and no scheduled competitions I will sometime go six days of alternating a metabolic stress with a neural stress, followed by a recovery day. Seldom will put two of these microcycles back to back. Some of this is training age dependent. I have found that the higher level athletes with a greater training age operate closer to their max; they know how to push themselves. The younger developing athlete tends to undershoot and operate at a lower stress level until they learn how to train. The implication of this is that with the developing athlete I tend to go hard one day, then medium the next, followed by an easy day.
Rob Sleamaker commented on external means of recovery. That is warranted, the extent of it is dependent on the training age of the athlete. All the training theory literature that I have read over the years stresses the pedagogical design of the training program first. I think that at the elite levels we have been become over dependent on external means of recovery and therapies to cover up for poor training design. I think we need to understand how to stress the body and allow its natural adaptive reserves to operate at various times in the training year. Too much external means of recovery interferes with the athlete’s ability to read their body. Proper timing of recovery methods is just as important and proper timing of training stimuli.