As I sit back here in the Melbourne winter, I thought it fitting to put together my guide to returning back to structured training after an extended break. To begin, however, I have the exciting news that I am on board as a coach with Scientific Triathlon! I am very happy to be working alongside Mikael and James as a coach at Scientific Triathlon and I am very excited to already have a diverse group of athletes based across Australia, Austria, Norway and America so far. I see this as a great opportunity and welcome any enquiries to email@example.com.
Now, on to my tips!
A break, for me, meant 6 weeks galivanting around Europe, creating amazing memories and eating great food. This provided a much needed mental and physical break from the structure of training, something I haven’t done for longer than two weeks in the past. It has, however, provided me with a reminder of a few things that I think deserve sharing. So, whether you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and a return to training is imminent after winter hibernation, you’re coming off a post-race break, or, you just want some tips for the next time you do have a break, here are my top tips:
1. You are not the ‘old’ you.
Your swim times, bike powers and run speeds are simply not going to be where they were pre-break. To train to these same zones simply means that you are likely to be using different levels of each energy system than you were previously and thus creating a different stress from the work. So, be realistic with yourself and even consider doing some baseline testing to get a fresh set of numbers from which you can work. They will be lower, but don’t fret, it will come back!
2. Train First, Weight Loss Second
There is every chance that when you come back from your break, you’ve put on a few kgs. Honestly, that is a good thing! However, don’t jump back into training head first and also try to run a calorie deficit from the get go in order to shift the weight straight away. You are already putting your body under stress that it hasn’t felt for some time and it needs to have good energy availability in order to not only hit your sessions but also in order to recover. Take some time when you start back to simply focus on getting the training right before you think about getting back to race weight!
3. Do Things That Make You Smile
Whilst I always advocate that training should be an enjoyable process, as you return back to training after a hiatus, I believe it is important to set yourself up for success by creating an environment free from too much structure and full of opportunities that make you smile. This might mean things like getting out on the mountain bike, running a new trail, swimming more in the open water or even trying something a little different like that strength program you’ve forever been putting off! Little goals within sessions and weeks that are outside your usual realm are also great for mental stimulation such as trying to get a certain amount of vertical ascent in a ride or seeing if you can improve your times across other swim strokes. Lastly, use this time to get out with friends and socialise whilst you train!
4. Patience is a Virtue
With time, you will get ‘fit’ again. It will come around far sooner than you think. Whilst day to day the improvements may be minor, you will soon notice that in fact you’re nearly back. Don’t be tempted to keep adding as much load/intensity as possible, simply let your body adapt and give it time to do so. Consistency (as always) is your friend here, not the big, once off, sessions.
5. Recover, Recover, Recover
Whilst training load is relatively low, use it as an opportunity to start implementing good recovery techniques that you may have otherwise missed previously. This includes things such as good nutrition, adequate sleep and importantly, remembering to make time for things outside of sport and work that make you happy, i.e. spending quality time with loved ones. The latter will provide you with and opportunity to de-stress that sometimes we can miss for long periods of time with the busy lifestyles that many live amongst the chaos of work, training, family etc.
So, get out, enjoy it and most importantly, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses every now and then!