Well as of the writing of this article it is the middle of the racing and event season for most Cyclists, Runners and Multisport athletes. By now you have completed base training, build training and have been racing and or participating in non-competitive events. You maybe getting tired too!
The mid season break, as I like to refer to it is when we have taken a look at our performances since the beginning of the season and assess how we are doing and take some time down.
I ask the following questions of athletes I coach to gain insight. I do this by reviewing data, race reports and riding and running with athletes as well as talking with athletes.
Am I tired?
If you have been working full time, raising a family, training, and racing you are probably getting pretty tired by now. If not good for you but most of us are starting to feel it. Sometimes fatigue can be a subjective matter and sometimes I can look at HR and Power data and see the fatigue. Most of us know we are tired by the typical symptoms of having difficulties falling a sleep, staying a sleep, moodiness, irritability and among other concerns not being able to reach your max HR like you could just a few weeks ago.
Am I stronger?
Maybe you have noticed that you have plateaued or even backslid a little bit as far as your strength goes. This could be evident in not being able to run or ride over hills like you could a few weeks ago. You may also notice that it’s harder to lift weights in the gym that you could a few weeks ago.
Am I faster?
If you are starting to drop speed in your running and or cycling it is also a good indication that fatigue has built up. However, you may actually be able to hold or improve upon speed when some of the other questions prove to have negative answers. This can be a problem. When your fast and you ignore the warning signs from the other questions you are setting your self up for injury, illness and/or burn out.
Am I leaner or fatter?
Weight loss and gain are different for every athlete I coach. It’s not uncommon to see some weight gain during a busy season of cycling, running, and triathlons. The question to ask your self is how did you gain or even suddenly lose weight. Is it due to stress eating, a lack of quality sleep or is it because you are not eating enough. In either case, sudden swings in weight are not healthy and can lead to performance and other health related issues.
Am I confident going forward?
Is self-doubt settling in about the rest of the season based on your past performances? Most of my athletes reach out to me at the beginning of the off-season around September but by January I have most of my athletes that I will be coaching for the season. However, I always get athletes shortly after the first few race weeks and quite a few mid season. Most often the athletes that sign up early in the season and mid season are athletes that have done great base training work and just need some more structure and encouragement to move forward into the season. However, some mid season athletes come to me over trained and on the precipice of burn out because they built training plans that were heavy on intensity but not on recovery.
So what should I do?
If you are seeing some of the above problems in your mid season there is a cure! You just need to take a break. Seriously more often than not a break is what is needed to get you back to what you love doing. Usually, a complete week off from structured training is all that is required. I have also been told that if you put the training away for a week and at the end of the week you cannot imagine being away from the bike, run or competition any longer than you are ready. If after a week you are still feeling tired and or apathetic go see your doctor and get some blood work done. The blood work and a basic exam could turn up other issues. Usually, blood work will turn up low iron levels but could also prove that you have taxed your hormone production and may need a longer break.
What do I do on my break?
Think of your mid season break as a vacation! You want to stay active, get plenty of rest and stay away from your primary athletic activities. When I take breaks I go hiking, walking, fishing and spend time on fun projects around the house. Better yet take an actual vacation and spend time with family and friends! The biggest take away is to stay active, rest and stay away from your primary sport(s)
So is Coach Rob headed to the beach during his mid season break? I WISH! I spent a week at the beach last season and 2 weeks the season before with my wife and children. It was exactly what I needed to recharge! However this year we decided to tackle projects at home but we will be mixing in some fun while we are at it. Does anyone want to help remodel a bathroom?
If you have questions about this article or any aspect of this article I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me!
Until next time
Train Smarter Not Harder