Is it just me, or does today feel like January 53rd? First it was Thanksgiving in November and then Christmas in December. New Year’s seems to fall in some weird limbo land where time and space cease to exist. We exist in a fog for three or four days thinking it’s acceptable to live off of cookies, candy, crackers, and cheese. Then BOOM, we’re supposed to be back in the swing of things. Ready and amped to get back to our normal day to day operations like we haven’t spent the last seven to ten days living in sweatpants. Worse, we’re supposed to be EVEN MORE PSYCHED than normal because it’s the New Year! Resolutions! Aspirations! Things! Woot!
Right? Times like these I think being an adult isn’t as much fun as childhood me thought it would be. Because more often than not, people take breaks from their routine over the months of holidays. We get lazy, we eat more, sleep more. And there’s always a good excuse to why we can skip a workout and binge watch another TV show. So when “getting back into the swing of things” looms it’s (sometimes) ugly head, it can seem impossible to even know where to begin.
Back in high school, when I was swimming and competing the most, we would have intense boot camp-esque weeks of training over the Christmas break. Our coaches must have thought to themselves, “kids are home for the holidays with no school? Perfect time to add in extra workouts!” Gee, thanks. But because of this non-break, my team always let us have a week off after our winter championship meet a few weeks into the new year. So I would sleep in before school, go home and eat snacks instead of going to afternoon practice, and enjoy not jumping into the icy depths of one of the many pools I trained at every morning before going to class. Sounds great, right?
My problem with this was that I very easily got too used to the non-swimming version of life, which would make going back to my normal swimming version of life SUPER tough come that next Monday morning when my alarm went off. Because I knew we weren’t going to have a nice ease back into things, no. Training would smack me in the face. My lack of swimming was all I would think about as I struggled to gain my cardio back.
This isn’t always the case though, lots of my friends had no trouble coming back. A lot of them were actually better than when we had left. Their bodies craved the sleep and relaxation, whereas mine used it to laugh at me as I struggled to keep up since I lost my conditioning so easily. Which brings me to my extremely long winded point of what you should do when you’re coming back from a workout hiatus and don’t want to end up like me as a teenager, crawling through the water like it was made of molasses.
Your best bet is to start slow. Don’t heap on all of the yardage that you’d gotten used to before your break. If you give yourself a huge workout your first day back, and you struggle, it’s just going to make it that much harder to keep coming back. Next thing to keep in mind is to stick to drill work. Adding in speed and pace work isn’t a good idea when you’re getting your muscle memory back and you’re finding your rhythm again. Think of getting back in the water in as many cliches as you want. Slow and steady wins the race. Just dip one toe in at a time. And so on.
Best case scenario is you go back, feel great, have a ton of energy, and crush your first workout. If that happens to you don’t be surprised if your next two to three workouts are a bit on the rougher side. Our bodies can trick us like this sometimes. So just keep a level head and know that you’re still getting back to normal. And no matter what happens there are going to be a few bumps along the way.
The hardest part? Just getting back in the water in the first place. Get over that mental hurdle and everything else will be a cake walk.
Coach Lissa, Tri Swim Coach