It’s good to take an end of season break, but when is it time to knuckle down again?
We all like to indulge in a few treats at the end of the season. That chocolate bar you always avoided, the glass of wine you turned down – now you can let your hair down and enjoy them all. However, it also pays to remember that you are probably burning fewer calories though exercise right now. It’s fine to gain a few pounds in the off-season but don’t let the trend carry on for too long. Weigh yourself after a fortnight of chilling out, and then weekly after that. If your weight goes up by more than around 4 or 5 pounds it’s either time to start eating better or training properly again.
If you’re someone who juggles a busy job, with a family and friends, now is the ideal time to repay some of their patience. Stop focusing on sport for a little while and do all the things you don’t normally have time for. Tell people this is your “easy month” just so they know what to expect. Have a few lie-ins, make your partner breakfast in bed, take your kids to the zoo and do something good at work. Once you’ve done all that, you can start planning your winter training regime again.
The start and finish of your end of season break will determine when you hit your peak in 2014. Look back at previous seasons and note the time of year you started training and how many months it took you to reach peak form. When were your best race results? History has a habit of repeating itself, so work backwards from that point. For example, if you started training on December 1st and peaked on July 1st it’s likely that it’ll take you 7-months to hit your peak next year too. It’s not an exact science, but it’s not a bad rule of thumb either.
It’s important to cut loose after months of training, but if you lose too much fitness you’ll have a mountain to climb throughout the winter. Your end of season recovery should be a bit like an extended race taper. Train regularly, at low intensities and take a day or two off each week. In addition, incorporate occasional higher intensity workouts. Make them shorter and do them less regularly than you would mid-season. For example, rather than doing hard intervals workouts every week, do them fortnightly and with fewer reps than normal. Build gradually back up to full training over a period of weeks or even a couple of months if needed.
Lack of motivation can be a sign of lingering fatigue, so if the idea of returning to training fills you with dread, you probably need to recover for a while longer. Try doing regular light, low intensity workouts to help you tick over. Keep a score (out of 10) of your daily motivation levels. When you start getting regular 8’s it’s time to start building up your training again.
By Phil Mosley