Take A Break – Why Do Athletes Need It?
Just in case you were thinking of getting straight back into training for next year, here is some reasoning on why you should have a few weeks of active recovery and definitely take a break.
The Kenyan Runners swear by it – ‘Nearly every Kenyan Runner rests starting the month of October, with most not resuming training until December or January, yet top triathletes now look to race almost all year long combining an Australian & European season back to back. This is also seen at club level with many multidiscipline athletes (especially juniors) under pressure to compete for their running club in X-Country and swim in galas throughout the winter. Many athletes will go straight from the Triathlon season at the end of September/ October straight into X-Country, mountain biking and Masters swimming events without a chance to take a break.
For the following reasons it might be wise to take a break:
The end of season break allows for the body to fully repair any tissue damage. During this period body fat levels may increase slightly and this time will also allow the stores of essential vitamins and minerals to be restored.
The immune system continually has to work overtime as it is trashed by hard training and competition. A prolonged break gives it a chance to fully recover and reduce the risk of illness throughout the winter. It will also reduce the risk of overtraining or under performing syndrome.
This is the time to rest or follow a rehab programme for a recurring injury. Use the time away from training to get a proper diagnosis and the correct treatment. An extra couple of weeks off, for example running, at this time of year will have no effect on next years performances, whereas running all winter with a niggling injury will!
The end of season break allows an individual to;
– spend quality time with friends and family
– recover from the pressures of training & racing
– reduce the chances of becoming stale
– stand back from the sport & recharge the ‘batteries’
Use this time constructively to:
* review the previous season and identify strengths and weaknesses
* set goals for the forthcoming season
* video the athletes swim, cycle and run for technical analysis
* do base line tests
* sort out any recurring injuries
* plan the emphasis of winter training
What should your end of season include:
1-2 weeks very easy (research has shown little drop off in performance by reducing training volume for this period of time, although some swimming should still be done to maintain the ‘feel for the water’)
Followed by 1-2 weeks of different activities for example Mountain biking, racket sports, Introduction to a weights programme, hill walking or just shorter runs / bikes/swims
You should ‘exercise’ as you feel and not follow a rigid programme. This might be the time to look at joining a local running club, finding a spin or circuit training session for the winter or taking up mountain biking.
Weeks 1 – 3:
– Train when you feel like it
– No high intensity work or races
– At least two rest days per week
– No running
– Maximum 30 minutes per session
– Train once per day ONLY
Weeks 4 – 6
– Swim – 2 x per week, maximum 45’, drills & technique – Goal is to maintain feel for the water
– Weights – 2 x per week, as circuits ( class or attached sheet)
– Stretch – 2 x per week
– Optional sessions – maximum 45 minutes per session
– Train once per day only- ( you can stretch on the same day as another session)
– No high intensity work or races
– At least one rest day per week
THE GOALS FOR THIS WHOLE PERIOD ARE:
* Recover from any niggles or injuries.
* Recharge the batteries
* Rebuild fitness
* Analyse performances from this season
* Set goals for next season
* ENJOY LIFE!