Taking an end of season break sounds easy, but getting the timing right is essential if you want to race well next year...
Words by Phil Mosley
After a long season of racing and training, November and December are often the best months to take a break. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring some balance back into your life, by investing a little more time into your friends, family and career. Getting the timing right isn’t always easy though. Take too many days off and you’ll spend the next six months battling to regain your previous fitness. These five tips will help you decide what to do and when to start training again.
We all like to indulge in a few treats at the end of the season. That chocolate bar you always avoided, the glass of wine you turned down – now you can let your hair down and enjoy them more. However, it also pays to remember that you are probably burning fewer calories through exercise right now. It’s fine to gain a few pounds in the off-season but don’t let the trend carry on for too long. If your weight goes up by more than around 4 or 5 pounds it’s either time to start eating better or increasing your training again.
If you’re someone who juggles a busy job, with a family and friends, now is the ideal time to repay some of their patience. Stop focusing on sport for a little while and do all the things you don’t normally have time for. Tell people this is your “easy month” just so they know what to expect. Have a few lie-ins, make your partner breakfast in bed, take your kids to the zoo and do something good at work. Once you’ve done all that, you can start planning your training regime again.
During an end of season break, the idea is to recover while staying fit. If you’re used to training most days, you don’t need to stop completely during your break. Make each session shorter than normal - half or two thirds of what you’d normally do - and do 90% of it at a nice comfortable low intensity. Once or twice per week, throw in a few bursts of higher intensity just to remind your body that you’re an athlete, so it doesn't de-train too much.
4. Race Schedule
The dates of your big races in 2015 will help you decide when to go back into full training mode. Following a sensible end of season lay-off, it’ll take you around 14 to 16 weeks of intelligent and progressive training before you hit any kind of peak. If you train for too many months leading into a big race, you may actually go past your peak. So try and stay reasonably fit during your end of season break and then start proper training at least 14-weeks before you want to hit form.
A lack of motivation for training can be a sign of lingering fatigue. So if the idea of a long bike ride or a hard run fills you with dread, you probably need to recover for a while longer. Try doing regular light, low intensity workouts to help you tick over. Keep a score out of 10 of your daily motivation levels. When you start getting regular 8’s it’s time to start building up your training again.
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Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.