Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Break is Over

As I sit here aching from two days of training after nearly a month layoff, I decided I should take a rest day.  In the past few years I have only taken a couple of weeks fully off, with a couple of easy weeks, but this year, due to other events, it made sense to have a complete rest for four weeks. And I am noticing the difference as I try to get fit again.

As hoped, this has given me a new motivation to train and compete, and hopefully my body, like my mind, will soon be ready to do so.  As so many athletes are also preparing to step back into winter training, I thought I would give a few hints and tips to help ease back into it.

Before I start, lets remember that it is important to take a break from training and competition. It allows both your body and mind to recover, and allows athletes to re-focus. However, when you stop exercising completely you loose aerobic fitness, lungs loose elasticity, blood vessels shrink and blood volume decreases. You use oxygen less efficiently and your heart pumps less blood per beat, not only that but you will also have lost muscles strength. Therefore, when you go back to exercise, just like a car that has been parked in a garage for several years, your body needs to be warmed up before it is taken out for hard exercise. If an athlete was to return to the same types of workouts as they were doing before the break, then the athlete risks straining inspiratory and expiratory muscles but also joints and muscles can become more stressed and increase the risk of injury.

Below are some simple tips which will help reduce the problems faced when athletes return back to exercise:
  • Have a plan - it’s easier to commit, especially when motivation drops, when you have a plan, and a plan can stop you from doing too much too quickly
  • Set attainable goals - and ease back into training, build slowly and allow momentum to grow.
  • Weight training (even if it’s just body weight) - this allows you to build strength and prevent injury. Functional exercises are great to start with. 
  • Get training partners - help to maintain motivation especially when the cold nights are coming in.
  • Stretch - improve recovery, help flexibility and prevent injury.
  • Try something new - Those athletes who are used to running and cycling on the roads could be encouraged to try cross country running or mountain biking to help gain fitness in a different environment, one which will  help challenge the core muscles too.
  • Keep warm - whilst out training and when you finish training remember you will cool down fast too.  Remember to take layers to keep warm once training is finished.
  • Stay Hydrated - Even during the winter and in the colder months you need to stay hydrated and remember to drink even when you may not feel thirsty. 
  • Plymometrics - Be aware of explosive movements. When cold these movements pose a greater risk of injury.  Always remember to warm up properly.

1 comment:

  1. Like Rachael, I've just got back from my end of season break. It was nice to feel that I actually deserved a break this year, after a relatively successful and consistent year, and having finished the season on a high note, I went into the break full of optimism for the year ahead. Of course, there was there temptation to skip the break and use the motivation to step things up, but I realise how long the year is, and that I would regret not taking a break.

    The first few days were difficult, and I missed the buzz of training, but luckly I then had a bit of work to do which involved me being on my feet all day. I soon didn't miss the training, and used the opportunity to do some work that I wouldn't be able to do while I was training.

    I found the transition back into training quite easy, and have upped my milage back up over that past 3 weeks. Yesterday I did my first session - some mile reps at medium intensity. As I said, the season is going to be a long one, so, for me, it's all about feeling good at this stage of the year.

    Remind yourself what your goals for the season ahead are, and when it is that you want to peak.