Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Much Needed Break

So how does one start training for an Ironman?  By doing nothing.  And I mean NOTHING.

About a month ago, I received an e-mail from my new coach giving us tips for preparing for the Feb. 1 start of the Well Fit program.  According to coach, the first thing that we needed to do was take a break.  A complete two-week break from all activity.  So, after I finished the Philadelphia Half Marathon last Sunday I hung up my running shoes and haven't done a darn thing since.  I've eaten plenty, slept lots and taken my pup on many, many walks (so at least the legs are still movin').  And it's been fabulous.

Although it's been years since I've taken a voluntary two week break from exercise of any kind, I think I'll be making this a part of my annual training cycle.  There are really two reasons for a complete break like this....

1. Physical break
Taking a complete break at the end of the season allows you to fully rest your body so that it can recover from the training of the oh, last 10+ months or so.  This sort of really deep recovery will allow you to de-condition so that you can come back even stronger (and for me, this will be critical with the heavy Ironman training volume ahead).

2. Mental break
But perhaps even more important than the physical break is the mental break.  Completely shutting down the training plan allows you to attend to every other facet of your life that is most likely neglected for the better part of the tri season.  You can spend lots of quality time with the family, clean/organize the house, spend as much time as you want at work and catch up on all of those neglected errands.  Lucky for me, my break falls at the beginning of the holidays, so I've been able to get the house decorated for Christmas, start my holiday shopping and get life in order before the end of the year rush.  All of this without any guilt about missing or cutting short on workouts.

I'm almost seven days into my mandatory break and I'm feeling so much more refreshed and relaxed and on top of life already (hey - I started writing in this blog again, right?!!).  While my muscles are feeling really achy (they haven't had this much rest in YEARS) and I'm definitely missing my daily endorphine rush (it really is addicting!), I wouldn't give up this break for anything in the world.  I have no doubt in my mind that after another week, I will be in the physical and mental shape to get back at it and ready to conquer the 9+ months of tough training that lies ahead.

Anyone else tried a complete end-of-season break before?  How has it worked out for you?  I'll let you know how I feel on December 6 (when pre-season training begins in earnest), but as I sit here writing this with another glass of wine in hand (since I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to train tomorrow), so far so good!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is ready for the holiday season ahead!

- Her

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