How many of you actually take a break at the end of a season, whether that’s from triathlon, athletics, football or any other sport? I don’t mean cutting the amount of sessions down, I mean a no training, no exercise break?
Not many, I imagine?
And how many of you think taking a break will ‘put you back in your training’ or will show a lack of commitment?
Taking a short hiatus from your sport has more benefits than you expect, not just for your body but for your mind.
For the body:
Let’s do a bit of maths for this part: say you do roughly 15 hours of training a week. With the 52 weeks in the year, that is 780 hours of training per year, with quite a lot of that being high intensity training. Add on a few races (we’ll use an Olympic distance triathlon for this example, as that is what I know), that will be another 12(ish) hours, which will take you to 792 hours a year.
Now, you may be thinking that it isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but now add on the rushing around you do for your job, shopping, social trips, cleaning the house, cooking, looking after the kids etc., and you’ll soon realise how much stress you put your body under.
Taking a break from exercise will give your body that little extra rest it needs to repair from the racing season and get ready for the next block of training. Yes, you will probably lose a bit of fitness in that time and going back to training after will feel tough, but it’s better than the alternative option of pushing on in order to keep your fitness up and risk an overuse injury at an unsuitable time, like at the beginning of the next season.
For the mind:
People often forget about this part. Your brain has to work just as hard, maybe even harder, than your body. It is constantly working; processing new information, sending electrical impulses down your body in order to move, forming memories, and that’s only scratching the surface on what it does.
Another obstacle it has to deal with is stress. Stress can come in any form and I hate to say it, but sport is one of them. Most age group/amateur athletes will know what I mean when I say juggling a full-time job and training/competing is stressful. You’re constantly thinking about the flights and accommodation you have to pay for, the new kit you need to replace the old stuff, how you’re going to fit your training sessions in around your 9-5 job, and probably the biggest one, that next ‘big race’.
Taking a break at the end of the season will give your mind the rest it needs from sport. It won’t get rid of all of your stress, but it is one less thing to think about for a while.
Trust me, you’ll appreciate it.
However, I know how hard it can be for an athlete to not do any sport. I never used to take a break at the end of a season, yet I always wondered why I was getting injured in the winter training block.
But you don’t have to sit around and do nothing. Go on that day trip to the zoo that your kids really wanted to do or relax on a spa day with some friends. Try something totally random, like zip-lining or bungee jumping, or just simply put your feet up and enjoy a nice quiet night in watching a film with the family.
Whatever it is that helps you to relax, do it.
And then get back out there with renewed eagerness, ready to get started again!