The right way to break the season in triathlon

It's often said that after the season is before the season, but what about the seasonal break, the time in between?. The seasonal break is probably the most underestimated phase of the training year by triathletes or is also often misinterpreted. The time after competitions and before the start of the preparation phase for the next season has great importance for our physical and mental health and especially for further performance development. After many months of intense training, heavy loads and high stress, the body needs recovery. We explain why the season break is so important in triathlon, but also in other endurance sports, how long it should last and what it really depends on.Simply to do nothing athletically and to leave all four once straight, that sounds so simple and nevertheless it falls many perseverance sportsmen heavily. Often out of fear to lose the finally reached form again or to run out of form in the season break and to put on some kilos. However, this fear is completely unfounded, because it is in many respects even very important at the end of the season a recovery period of a few weeks to schedule.

Similar to the regeneration after a training unit, the relief week after a few weeks of stress, the season break is of course also based on sports science. More implies less and losing some form is quite intentional. To continue to build on the performance gained and maintain health, a few weeks of recovery is needed after intense and disciplined months to re-strengthen the foundation and renew the infrastructure. Only then can the building grow sustainably stable. Is our body again able for the next season a few levels more draufsetzen. Otherwise, sooner or later you will be stuck on a plateau. Further development becomes more and more difficult.

WHY A BREAK AFTER THE SEASON IS SO IMPORTANT?

A seasonal break is not only of great importance from a physiological point of view, but the time out from structured training is especially important mentally. Just as races are won in the mind, physical recovery also begins in the mind. Doing nothing for a certain period of time allows the muscles, tendons and joints to regenerate and repair. This is also true for the nervous system and the psyche. Switching off and thinking about things other than swimming, cycling and running again creates space for new ideas and new motivation. Get down right.

Age group athletes in particular integrate 12-18 hours of training per week into their private and professional lives over many months. This is an additional organizational stress with which should be an end for a few weeks a year. This is also an enormous pressure for the immune system. It is always on alert to repair tissue structures, ward off invaders such as bacteria and viruses, and contain inflammation. If you don't take a season break, you risk getting sick, injuries and even a burnout.

The right way to break the season in triathlon

WHEN TO TAKE A SEASON BREAK?

The ideal time for a season break is as individual as your training and personal goals. Mentally, many triathletes often run out of steam after the last race. Usually this is after the peak of the season. After the last competitions one should use some weeks for the recovery. During this time you should not think about sports all the time. Especially if you do not follow a training rhythm. This year, it worked very well with the beginning of fall because the competitions were moved to the end of summer due to the pandemic.

But that will return to normal in a year or two. Then a season break after a highlight like the CHALLENGE Roth, the IRONMAN Frankfurt or Hamburg would be clearly too early. One would take a break of 4-6 weeks starting in August. Start preparing for the next season as early as mid-September. Apart from that it would be a pity not to use the most beautiful season for training. To put the road bike in the corner or hang up the running shoes. Not to mention the wonderful training sessions in the outdoor pools.

Nevertheless, after a hard competition, such as a long distance, it is necessary to have a break of 10 – 14 days even during the season, sometimes completely without training or through active recovery. Because still three weeks of a long distance the musculature is damaged. Inflammatory reactions detectable.1 This should not be underestimated.1 You should not underestimate.

The one right time for a seasonal break does not exist. A possible starting point could be the planned return to structured training for the next season and 4 – 6 weeks back from that in the calendar. The planned re-entry is again from the season planning. Depending on the season highlight of the next year.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO OR BETTER NOT DO DURING THE SEASON BREAK?

The key is to spend the entire duration of the seasonal break without a plan and free of training structures, according to your mood and desire. The core sports of swimming, cycling and running should not play a role in everyday life during this time. If you can't do it completely without sports activity, try alternative sports like hiking, Climbing or surfing. You can also meditate Yoga try it out or plan your vacation during this period. The key is to avoid stress, recover and enjoy this time properly.

But it is also perfectly fine to do nothing for a few days. If you find this difficult, you can practice mental recovery strategies such as autogenic training and internalize them. You will also benefit from this during the season. Nevertheless, you should still be active in sports during this time in order to maintain basic endurance and certain conditional skills. For this, a relatively small amount of training of about six hours per week divided into two-hour training sessions is sufficient.

Also, nutrition should not be completely ignored, because after all, the seasonal break should regenerate body and mind and strengthen our immune system. Bad nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption and constant party weekends would be stress again. Although the scale should remain in the closet, the body weight should not go uncontrollably through the ceiling during the seasonal break. It is important to find the right balance and to listen to your body to find out what is good for you. After all, you want to get back into training after six weeks at the latest. Do not do another four weeks of regeneration or fasting from the season break.

The right way to break the season in triathlon

HOW LONG SHOULD THE SEASON BREAK LAST?

The duration of the seasonal break is as individual as the timing. It depends on physiological factors, of course, but also strongly on mental factors. It is important to clear your head, not to start too early again and not to take too long a break. Many athletes can't let go, find it hard to rest and others overdo the break, always pushing the restart further.

Amateurs and age group athletes with 12 – 18 hours of training per week in addition to job, family and private life should plan at least 4 – 6 weeks of training break at a stretch. Professionals on the other hand, who often complete 2 – 3 long distances in addition to 3 -4 middle distances and some preparation races within a season, may well take a season break of between 4 – 8 weeks.

Another option is to split the training break and use the warm, stress-free autumn for moderate post-season training and initial preparation for the next season. The still very good form could thus be used for further sporting highlights after an initial two to four week break in the season. This could be, for example, long day trips, a multi-day crossing of the Alps or similar with the road bike or even a marathon in late autumn. This means the fall season, with its longer days, can still be used effectively for maintaining and improving base endurance and fat metabolism.

In the cold season you could then focus more on short, qualitative training sessions with intervals, on more technique and functional training and other deficits. The second training break should then take place in December over Christmas at the latest. New Year to be made before it goes at the beginning of January in the concrete preparation for the new season.

CONCLUSION

But don't worry, a season break will not have a negative effect on your next season. No matter which option you choose, whether it's a full four to six week seasonal break or two shorter breaks of 2-4 weeks, both are more likely to make you better, stronger and faster in the long run, and especially protect your health in the long term.

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