The 3 R’s!
Rest, Recovery, Renew
Thank you to Tri SA for the opportunity to share a few thoughts and words of wisdom gained from 25 years as a triathlete and 15 years a coach, (time flys when you’re having fun!).
Back in the ol’ days, the tri season had a definite start & finish and winter was a time to recover, recharge the batteries and do other things. These days there are events all year round and it can be very tempting to try and be race fit and go flat chat for 12 months.
Regardless of what distance you train for or what level of athlete (beginner to elite), athletes need to factor rest and recovery throughout the year.
Consider factoring in to your training:
Taking a month off after race season….
A. Time to recover physically.
Address any niggles or injuries that have been nursed (or ignored). Seek professional attention, diagnosis, rest, proper rehab etc. Find out what you need to do to prevent reoccurrence, ie how do concerns relate to technique, posture, weaknesses and imbalances in the body, ill- fitting equipment, etc. Start thinking about what to do when you re-start your training, eg maybe spending more time on technique, re-strengthen or re-balance, correct posture, improve muscle activation and movement patterns. (At Inspire Athletico this is a key focus.)
B. Time to rest mentally.
After being so focused on goals, juggling a busy lifestyle, putting extra pressure on ourselves on race day, (we all do it – and good to address as our ability to remain calm = increased performance outcomes), our brains need a break.
C. Time to support the people who support you..
When the tri season is over, prioritise more time with family and friends, and renew the balance from not having to make such sacrifices. It also helps to get a few brownie points in the bank too!
D. Time to reflect and acknowledge your achievements.
Note what you've learnt, think about what you’d like to learn next or improve upon. What new toy might help you improve?! (Triathletes seem to respond well to retail therapy, but as my cycling coach used to tell me “it’s in the legs Lisa – not the bike”).
You’ve possibly read similar words before, but I wanted to share and encourage athletes that it is OK to have a break. This doesn’t mean you don’t do anything, as once the tri bug bites, it becomes a lifestyle for many and exercise is important part of the daily routine. So a break might be doing less, doing things just for fun, trying something new or not related specifically to tri’s. An easy trail run/walk without a watch, mountain biking (like doing the Tribe MTB Duathlon with friends/family - no watch – no expectations & a fantastic event with great cake!), surfing, yoga, table tennis, croquet, paint the house, travel, gardening or anything where you don’t have to sit on a bike seat for a few weeks – especially for the Ironman’ers still trying to pee straight.
When to take the break….
In general, if you are a triathlete training & competing regularly throughout the year then after about 11 months of being on the go, have a month off. If you are a beginner then the break may need to be longer and start soon after your first 6 months in your first few seasons.
Set goals that inspire you….
Once you've recovered and feel renewed, it's time to psychologically prepare for the next season. Start with thinking about what you would like to do and set goals (short, long, small, big etc) that are meaningful for you.Identify "What Inspires You!"
Towards the end of your R&R you’ll have better head space for exploring what inspires you, greater clarity about what you enjoy and what rings your bell (rather than maybe falling into a rut, or following others rather than doing what’s important to you).
As you re-start your training , (going from base training right through to race prep’) you’ll increase your potential to achieve new training highs which will lead to faster / more enjoyable race days as a result of being Rested, Recovered and Renewed.
Your inspiration will show through when you see that you’re better at maintaining your focus when training gets harder, race day get tough, or other things happen beyond your control.
Recovery and Illness….
For most of us based in Adelaide the start of winter is a common time to have a break. There seems to be a pattern where athletes who don’t have a break come down with colds / flu early into winter. This is another reason to rest up and recharge to allow the immune system to recover in time for flu season. When you start training again, if you are well rested and renewed you should be able to get on top of any bugs really quickly, or better still avoid them all together.
On the topic of colds, flu etc, it is important to allow the body to rest to recover. Training through usually prolongs the illness and weakens the immune system which makes you more vulnerable to the next bug. Having time off or taking it easy and getting over the bug first time round will usually set you up with a stronger immune system for the rest of winter. (Not to mention that training hard with an illness can create more health concerns and even long term medical conditions…)
You can use your resting Heart Rate (HR) as a guide to help gauge if you need rest.
- Take your HR just before you get up in the morning for a week to get an average resting HR (unless you have completed more accurate testing).
- Use this as a general guide if feeling really tired, flat or sick to see if it’s a good idea to train or you need to rest.
- If your resting HR is more than 15BPM (Beats/Min) higher than your average - then go easy, either do a lighter session or have a longer rest before training again.
- If more than 20BPM over then I’d suggest having a full rest day and checking again the next day.
- Work with your coach, health practitioner on this as it is very general, but a good place to start.
Recovery refreshes both the mind and the body….
If you are an athlete who likes to push yourself to your limits mentally and physically with your racing then a period of rest and recovery will enable you to approach your challenges with a fresh mind and body.
I believe that all athletes have the capacity to dig really deep, find that bit extra both mentally and physically for one or two races a year. These are the races that come together, give a huge buzz, and surpass what you may not have dared to think was possible.
Building the courage to go beyond your expectations, being game to see what you really can do only works if you recover and renew with focus and inspiration.
(As an athlete I have experienced great highs and extended my performance from learning how to apply myself mentally, physically and emotionally, all of which would not have been possible without the 3 R’s.)
Recovery on a day-to-day or session-to-session basis….
To finish off, I’d just like say ‘ditto’ to the other coaches articles featured on Tri SA’s website, and add my ‘2 cents’ on training & preparation as you ramp up your training.
- Listen to your body
- Track your training
- Seek advice from qualified coaches
- Ensure you know your training session objectives
- Know your numbers
- Training + Recovery = Improved Fitness
Apply yourself for the whole training session - the warm up, technique & skill development, main set, warm down, recovery.
If you are an older athlete like me then the warm up and warm down needs a bit more attention as well as the recovery strategies throughout the week.
Attention to detail will reap fantastic rewards. As Nigel Pietsch covered in his coaching article, there is no magic pill or formula, but there is magic in knowing how to prepare and look after your body (as it’s the only body you’ll have) if you want it to go really fast!
(Oh, and the other trick is to look good while doing all the above, but I’m not sure my dress sense counts so best I do my 3 R’s!)
Triathlon Coach (level 1) & Personal Trainer
I am the principal coach for Inspire Athletico. We are dedicated to supporting athletes to achieve their dreams and beyond. Our coaching and training challenges the athlete, it’s motivating and it’s fun. Inspire Athletico group training sessions offer a supportive environment to inspire participants to achieve fantastic outcomes. For more info please email email@example.com
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Physiotherapist - Nora De Bono
Chiropractor - Dr Felicity Maitland