5 reasons to take a training break

Valentin Belz 26. October 2021

Foto: iStock.com/littlehenrabi

A training break gives the body and mind the opportunity to recover and recharge their batteries once a year.

Admittedly, it's not that easy finding the right time to take a training break. The autumn runs are currently in full swing, afterwards the city runs will continue, and then the cross-country skiing season is ready and waiting again. Those not wanting to forego one or the other will inevitably rush from race to race without ever giving their body and mind the chance to fully recover. And while is it common for top athletes to take a break, this is frequently omitted in the training plans of amateur athletes. In all fairness, it would actually be very easy to do since it doesn’t require any additional time. You just need to forego your "normal" training and ensure you don’t fill up the extra time with work.

Anyone who puts on their running shoes several times a week, gets on their bike, or goes swimming, is basically doing a lot of good for their health and an improved performance capability. However, if they do this for months on end without a long break, train intensively on a regular basis, and take part in competitions, then they should recharge their batteries properly once a year and give their body and mind time out.

The effects of a break speak for themselves

  1. A break can bring your hormone levels back into balance. Training and competitions mean stress. Especially when you have to combine them with your work and family life. The body responds with an increased production of stress hormones, which can get out of hand and weaken both your immune system and resilience in the long run.
  2. Your motivation and mental willingness to perform will return. Your desire to resume your training workload will already return during or after the training break at the very latest. And you will be pleased to see that you can organise your intensive units and competitions just as successfully as before.
  3. Passive structures can recover. While regular training can do you a lot of good, the smallest injuries to the passive musculoskeletal system continue to crop up during training, which are unable to fully heal due to the short breaks between the individual training units. A longer break ensures that these so-called microtrauma injuries can heal completely again and won’t lead to a major injury that would require a longer break.
  4. A break will take you to a higher level of performance. In the short term, a break of several weeks leads to a reduction in performance. However, after a few weeks of specific training, you will regain your previous level of performance because your body has memorised it. And because you return invigorated with new energy and freshly charged batteries, you will even exceed your previous level of performance.
  5. More time brings new perspectives. When you are in your hamster wheel, you have absolutely no opportunity to think about your goals, motivation, and training. During the break, it is therefore worthwhile to look back on the past season and think about when you felt good, were in shape, and what you want to achieve and improve next year.

Try it out and take a training break of at least 3-4 weeks. But you don’t need to reduce your training workload to zero if you can't do without your sport. However, avoid exhaustive and intensive training units, choose new forms of movement, and above all, do them according to your mood. Give your mind new food with everyday programmes that have nothing to do with sports for once. And finally, use passive recovery measures to treat yourself to something that you can only dream of during your normal training phase.