Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Benefits of a Mid- Season Break, part 1

 Ahhh, the mid-season break.  Where the rider can sit back, relax, digest the previous months of training and prepare for that second peak.  The benefits of a mid-season break can be many and depending on your goals, a break may be the only thing that can save or preserve your season.  The mid season break does a few things: prevents burn out, prevents burning up, and provides for a transition between disciplines.  In the next posts, we'll look at these and show how the break can be a good thing.

Burn out.  It's that desire to do absolutely nothing.  You know that feeling, when you want to go ride, but you don't want to ride hard.  Or when you just want to sit at the coffee shop an extra hour then head home.  Burn out comes most often for the ones that see marked improvement early in the season, in part because they are driven to succeed more by the improvement they've seen already seen; and partly because they have immense internal pressure on themselves to continue to see success.  Then, as soon as the improvement stops, BAM! It all comes crashing down and their season is, for all intents and purposes, over.  Burn out is as much to blame for the loss of star athletes from sport as injuries, school or anything else and it must be managed.

Your mid season break should put your training on a secondary focus for a while.  Sure, go train some but not very long and only if you want to.  However, it's a great time for a vacation!   The mountains, the beach, or even just chill-axing at home on your stay-cation.  Or, even.... re-re modeling your basement (sorry Tom)!  The goal is to step away and come back with a refreshed mental state.  You'll need it as late season peaks are tough.  No longer can you rely on the winter and reduced daylight hours to slow your competition.  Everyone is going fast and you'll need to step it up to see success late in the season.  Look around at those that succeed in August every year, is it coincidence that they probably started late or took some time off?  Doubtful.

The length of the season is daunting.  For those in the south, it starts in late January and runs through October.  For those north of the Mason Dixon line, it begins in April and runs through Cross Nationals in December.  Either way, that's a LONG time to be on form.  Maintaining that desire to succeed for an entire macro-cycle is very difficult. Something as simple as inter-cycle rests help to keep the athlete mentally sharp.  Keeping your goals and expectations in line with your fitness is essential to managing that mental drive.  Like physical form, that mental drive is a finite resource and must be managed.