Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Benefits of a Mid-Season Break, Part 3:The Spoils

Before we get into the fun stuff below, let's talk about managing the mid-season break.  There are two types of conditions that every break will meet.  Planned and unplanned.  Examples of each (let's see if you can figure them out): vacation, illness, business trips, injury...  easy right. 

The majority of clients Source Endurance works with have 2-3 peaks per season and depending on the individual, everyone needs some sort of break.  The mid season break can come in many forms; complete off the bike, some easy riding, unstructured training or any combination.  The goal of the break is to rest, re-motivate and prepare for that next peak on the horizon.

Here are a couple of Source Endurance Clients that have taken the mid-season break, in both of the aforementioned conditions.

Athlete 1: Unplanned.  Injury.
This athlete was hot on the heels of some of the best form of his life.  Just peaked, was looking forward to a couple more races, then onto a bit of respite from the High Intensity (1,2,3) Training he had been executing to perfection when it happened..... A bad crash (circled) left him with some nasty road rash and a fair number of stitches along with a number of other maladies which left him off the bike for 9 days, more than he's ever been out of commission in his adult life.

The most important thing to convey to Athlete 1 is that now, getting well became the #1 priority.  He likes to ride and train as cycling helps keep him sane, and happy. These injuries are definitely degrading his quality of life and must be addressed before any recoup of fitness can be had. 

There was and always will be a detraining effect when one is on injured reserve for that much time.  Studies show that doing nothing can quickly lead to loss of fitness.  However, it's important to remember that detraining is relative to some degree.  His form was not gained in 9 days and thus he will not lose it all in 9 days.

Following his return to training, a slow build was necessary to ensure that there were no aggravation of the injuries.  Once he got into his normal  rhythm again, the trajectory was impressive.  Within one training cycle he was at the same level that took him all of 2010 to achieve.  Equally as important is that now he is rested, refreshed and ready to do some hard work again.  This combination will allow him to finish out his road season strong at the state road championships in October.

Athlete 2: Vacation in Italy May 24-June 2
Athlete 2 has had a very good 14 months on the bike.  He earned his upgrade at Superweek in 2009 and now is placed on his team's Elite squad.  With this comes some elevated expectations.  No longer is it simply okay to "just finish" a race.  He is expected to contribute in some way at every team race he competes in.  A tall order for a newly upgraded athlete.  However, he took the challenge head on and made some great strides in 2010.

Athlete 2 is also very good about knowing his own limitations as well as keeping his life in balance.  To this end, he understands that if he does not take some down time, his motivation wanes and he will be effectively done for the season.  The best remedy: Vacation in Italy, of course!

Athlete 2 finished off his successful spring campaign, then jet set himself to Europe for some well deserved R and R.  When he came back, he found that all the remaining races were indeed "big deal" events.  Time to get back to work.

We've been concentrating on more short term powers with a focus on repeatability since his return to competition.  The numbers don't lie.  There has been improvement across the board.  Athlete 2 has shown improvement relative to his pre-vacation form in every major energy system across the board.  This should bode well for him and his team as the season progresses into the final stages of the 2010 road season.