by Chris Hague
Welcome to the 2013 season! Although it is only September, like many of you, I have completed my last A race of the season and have thoroughly enjoyed the past two weeks of complete rest after a long season of training and racing.
Yes, you read correctly, I have done absolutely NOTHING for the past two weeks.
I did not set my alarm to wake up at 3:30 for a workout; I stopped counting calories; my diet went out the window; my Garmin laid idle; my training gear began collecting dust. To be honest, it was extremely tough at first to veg out like I did. My mind was already getting excited for my 2013 races and goals. I could not wait to dive in (literally since I desperately need to work on my swim fitness) and begin chasing down my competition.
However, after the my post-race, adrenaline euphoria had faded, I realized that my body needed this time off. I knew something was off when the smell of chlorine made me sick and the thought of clipping onto the bike exhausted me. I definitely needed to hit the “reset” button. While the 2013 schedule loomed large ahead me, I accepted that resting now would set me up for success not only for 2013 but for many years to come.
Taking time off is essential for any athlete for physical, emotional, and psychological well being. You have put yourself through hours of mental and physical stress over the course of the past season, so allowing yourself some time to rejuvenate and be “normal” allows your body to reset itself. As endurance athletes, we do not just train and plan for one or two seasons but have goals for many seasons and years to come (Kona 2020 anyone?). If we trained non stop at the same intensity year round without any rest, we would risk serious injury and burn out. Come January, when the days are short and the training volume is high, I am going to be thankful that I took this time away from training.
Many people ask how long is enough? This depends. Ironman athletes, like Chrissie Wellington who takes 6 weeks off, definitely need more time than an athlete who does not race at all or has only done one or two smaller races this year. Regardless of which category you fall into though a break from all things triathlon is needed. I would recommend one week off for those who have only done a few sprint or Olympic distances this year, two to three for those who have trained seriously for Olympics or halves, and four to six for Ironman athletes.
During this time, completely disconnect from training. Do nothing related to triathlon. That does not mean you should sit on the couch for the whole time, but rather do activities that you do not normally get to enjoy while in the heat of training. Go for a hike with the kids, play water polo, try a new fitness class at your gym—whatever you normally get to do, try it out and relish it. Personally, I go on the elliptical and catch up on all the outdated magazines and books that I have compiled throughout the season. If your season has ended or will be ending soon, hit the reset button. Rebooting your body now will jump start your training later.
In my next post, I will talk about what steps I take after I hit reset to come back stronger and ensure an even better season than the season before.
Workout of the week: In line with the message of this article, the WOW is taking a “week off.”
Your “workout” is to do something you normally do not do. Here are some suggestions:
1. New Yoga class
3. The Elliptical
4. Softball game with friends
5. Ultimate Frisbee
6. Hike with the significant other(s)
7. Channel Surfing (these can be dangerous and cause injury so limit your time. If you do want
to watch a bit more television, I recommend doing short intervals of watching TV and then
something non sedentary).
9. Cooking elaborate meals
10. Bird Watching