The dos and don'ts when on a training break
A training break: this is a matter of course for pro athletes, yet it’s a foreign concept for many amateur athletes. It's a period of three to four weeks in which you give your body and mind time to recover properly and recharge your batteries. Of course, this isn’t always easy when your calendar is filled with sports events. However, everyone should try to factor in this break and not just wait for their body to scream that it needs a break after repeatedly ignoring the signs.
A break has many positive effects. These include recovery of the passive structures, regulation of hormonal imbalances, increased motivation and improved mental performance. Above all, contrary to expectations, a training break will actually enhance your performance since you'll return with a new lease of life and recharged batteries.
But what should you look out for? What should you and shouldn’t you do? Here are the most important dos and don’ts:
- Let go: Enjoy the feeling of not having to do anything. You don’t have to get up early, sacrifice your lunch break or spend time away from your family in the evening. Thanks to no training, you'll have more time during the day to relax and focus on other things.
- Do things you don’t normally have time for: Anyone who regularly trains and prepares for a certain goal often lacks the time to go shopping, visit friends, head to the cinema or take a city break. During a training break, you'll have time to do things unrelated to sport and create space for new thoughts to arise.
- Reflect: During the season, it's often difficult to objectively analyse training and competition and make any changes to the training process. This can be rectified during a training break. You can reflect in peace and think about when you felt good, when you were on form, what you can achieve next year and what you’d like to work on.
- Alternative sports: You don’t have to avoid sport altogether during a training break. If you don’t want to completely stop exercising, it is advisable to undertake a more gentle, lower-intensity sport and focus on enjoying yourself.
- More sleep: Sleep is and remains the best form of recovery. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep. If you don't need as much sleep by the end as you did at the beginning, then that’s a sign that your body has recovered and that you’re ready to go again.
- Work more: When you're no longer training, you suddenly find yourself with more time that can easily be filled with work. Resist the temptation and use the time instead for things that you'd like to do but don’t normally have time for when you're training.
- Go from one extreme to the other: Anyone who trains consistently throughout the season and then suddenly finds themselves without that sport can quickly end up on the other extreme, such as staying up all night. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that on the weekend. However, if this becomes the norm then your batteries won’t be properly recharged after the break and it'll make returning to the sport more difficult.
- Intensive, exhausting workouts: Those who can’t sit still during the break should at least avoid draining, high-intensity workouts. Forget about pace, watts and average speed and exercise for fun rather than focussing on performance.
- Interrupt the break: The benefits of a break are undisputed. It’s never a good idea to end a break - which is an integral part of an athlete’s training year - early or do away with it altogether.
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