At this point in your racing season you have probably done nearly half of your season’s races. Hopefully, you are right on track to reach your goals and crush your “A” race in a month or two. Maybe you are not exactly where you want to be and have struggled in some early races. Regardless, it might be time to consider a midseason break.
The physical and mental strain of consistent training can take its toll on you and your support group. Time to reward them before the big push to your championship race. Too many times athletes feel the pressure to keep up the intensity to outdo their competition. They fear they will lose valuable ground, but this simply is not the case. The midseason break is just as important for mental recovery as it is for physical. Your support team could use it too!
So when do you take your break and how long should it be? We recommend taking a solid week, but no longer than two. Plan it out the same time you plan out your race schedule. Your schedule probably includes a peak race around the midseason mark. Plan your break right after this race.
Breaking your season into two sections like this makes it easier to push through and concentrate on reaching your season goals. The rest week also allows you to reevaluate the first half of the season and revise your plan for the second half based on your performances thus far. Plan a meeting with your coach or support team for the end of the break and make sure you are all on the same page as you prepare for the last few months of your season.
A rest week does not mean that you don’t do anything. It means you don’t do anything structured. This is a great time for social workouts. Triathletes and endurance athletes in general often end up on an island doing many of their workouts on their own. Your planned rest week is a great time to throw out structure, zone goals, and just enjoy the activities you do. Find your friends that would love to workout with you, but can’t quite hang and make an effort to ride, run or swim at their pace. It’s amazing how well you will feel both physically and mentally after a week with no structure and a little more social contact.
You want to relax and stay active. Some extra yoga, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking are great because they are low impact and mimic many of the movements you use in triathlon. In general, try not to do any one discipline more than twice and limit each to an hour or less. There are definitely some exceptions. A low intensity cruiser ride with your kids or significant other that lasts over 60 minutes is fine. Something like a hike with friends that is well over an hour can be fine too.
The rest week however is not time to try more intense activities that could cause injury and sabotage the rest of your season. It is not the best time to pick up crossfit or decide to jump in the local three on three basketball tournament. Your jump shot can wait! These are great activities, but not during your midseason break, and definitely not at this point in your season with your main goals still in front of you.
It’s not too late. Take a look at your schedule, talk to your coach and support team. Is it time for a midseason break?