Between the start of my triathlon career 2 years ago in October 2014 and the pinnacle at world champs in September 2016 I never really took a break.
Sure, I had days off. In the beginning I didn’t, but my training wasn’t very structured either, so it wasn’t much of a problem. After I started working with my coach Craig, I started having scheduled days off in my weekly training plan.
But I never took a longer break where I literally did nothing. I was too worried I’d lose all the progress I had made so I just kept going.
After returning from Mexico I didn’t quite know what to do with myself because my initial plan was to retire from racing and to just ride my bike and swim for fun. But at world champs I was reminded that I get a real kick out of competing and that it just makes me very very happy.
For a couple of weeks I just did random training, nothing structured, just easy rides and a couple of swims. It didn’t feel very satisfying but I enjoyed not having the pressure to make the most out of every minute of a workout.
The sore throat that bugged me in Mexico developed into a bigger cold with a very annoying cough and dad kept telling me to take a break, stop training completely and get back to 100%. “Weren’t you meant to stop after Mexico?”
I didn’t listen to him. Of course…
Needing expert advice
What I needed instead was a chat with my coach about how we would continue with my training to set myself up for another world champs in September 2017.
Craig told me to take a break. 2 weeks of absolutely no exercise. For a second I was mortified. But because he knows very well what he’s doing and has helped me nail all my goals in the past 12 months, I listened to him.
And between Sunday 2 October and 16 October I did absolutely nothing, drove to work in the car and just hung around.
Was it difficult? Actually, no. As long as I am committed to something 100% it doesn’t tend to feel like a chore.
I thought I might go a bit gaga, but instead of moping about and getting bored, I shifted my focus and managed to:
- Sleep at least 7 1/2 hours every night
- Go to a dance show with my best friend
- Buy winter clothes (it is getting so cold here!)
- Spend a fair bit of time with my parents
- Meet some twice removed nephews and nieces whom I hadn’t seen before
- Get myself a new bike trainer so I can train indoors
- Go for a few nice long walks around town, including areas I had never been to
What I learned about myself during this two week break
- I actually enjoyed the break, because I accomplished other stuff and I now feel ready to start winter training.
- I also learned a couple of things about myself.
- I am able to listen to advice when it comes from the right people. Don’t get me wrong, my dad being a doctor probably qualifies him somewhat when it comes to advice about my health, but he is no expert on endurance or high performance sports, so I preferred to listen to my coach instead. The cough disappeared anyway… 🙂
- I can happily spend a few hours in my own company without a screen to entertain me.
- There are plenty of conversation topics beside triathlon, bikes, food and training statistics.
- I enjoy cheering on others in their life pursuits as much – if not more – as I like hearing the applause myself.
Coming back with new energy and focus
After my two week break I was very excited to get back into training mode. For now we’re focusing on building my strength and endurance at a low intensity which suits me rather well given the cold weather creeping in. I also have a bit of travelling to do between now and Christmas, and being able to accommodate for life stuff in my training schedule will be good.
The 2 week break reminded me how important it is to hit the reset button every now and then. And how important it is to have people reminding you to stop when you can’t quite see the need for it yourself.
Looking ahead to 2017
The season ahead will be an exciting and challenging one. Winter will bring a few running races and some travelling, maybe even a winter training camp.
Spring will finish with the first triathlon races of the season and then there are three big ‘A’ races in summer:
- German Championships
- European Championships and
- World Championships.
Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? Most definitely!
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.