Making a comeback

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Coming back to your sport after a layoff may take awhile and it should!

I recently spoke about making comebacks in a prior show and promised I would cover the subject in a new Endurance QuickCast. Getting started in sport again after a layoff can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Layoffs from the sports we love can occur at any time and the reasons are many. So I am going to cover several scenarios and how you can quickly and safely transition back.

As usual, before we jump into the show I have a note and an offer for you our listeners.

Note: Before you get out pencil and paper for the show I want to let everyone know that that this show will have extensive show notes. To find the show notes simply go to or search for the show title on our website.

Offer: We have released the new HIIT training for cyclists! We have a discount available for our listeners. Use the promo code hiitjuly to receive 35% off the regular price of this plan and some new ones we have coming out on my race proven Kitchen Sink plans too. I apologize for any confusion on the coupon code I may have caused on the HITT show but it is all one word, hiitjuly. All of the training plans can be found at this offer is good until September 30th, 2017 at Midnight Eastern Standard Time.

Let’s go ahead and dive right into the show…

So let’s talk about what it means for you to get back to it after an…

  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Burnout
  • Life Family and Career
  • Staying Safe

Illnesses are one of the most common comebacks I have to help orchestrate. Usually, they are short-term illnesses but in some cases, they may have been a long-term illness. In the case of a short term illness lasting 2 weeks or less, I think most would agree that making this short of a layoff a comeback concern is a bit overkill but it bears being careful when returning to training. I typically do not make any major changes to training plans in such a short period. I will create one of my full or half-week comeback plans before picking up where the athlete left off. If an athlete has been off of training for illness 3-6 weeks I will give them a 1-2 week comeback plan and then for every week past 3 weeks I will go 1 -2 weeks backward into their annual plan. So for instance, if the athlete was sick for 6 weeks then she or he will get a 1-2 week come back block and then I will go backward into their annual plan 3 weeks. Not everyone handles this well so the formula isn’t perfect. Most of it depends on the athlete’s illness, their level of experience and motivation. In the case of a major illness where an athlete is off for 3 months or longer then we start fresh. We create a new annual training plan and do everything we can to ensure that the athlete remains healthy before harder work can begin. In any case, if I have an athlete that has been fighting a major illness that required hospitalization or even short term disability they may not return to my coaching roster until they provide a signed medical consent letter from their Doctor that they can return to training. This is done to protect the athlete from causing further harm to their health.

Coach Rob goes into a bit more detail on the show on medical tests and nutritional tactics to help athletes stay healthy while they train and while in the thick of competition. So make sure to listen to the show and not just read the show notes!

Injuries are probably even more common as far as comebacks go that I have to help orchestrate. Injuries stem from many things in athletes, such as overuse, collisions, non-related accidents, age, poor form, equipment malfunction or poor equipment choices to name a few. The most common injuries I see are Plantar fasciitis and IT band Syndrome in runners, various knee issues in cyclists as well as fractures of the collarbone, ribs and occasionally the pelvis. I also see a lot of injuries that occurred as the utilization of improper lifting techniques in the gym. Many of these concerns are preventable but some are not and happen to the best athletes in the world. Overuse injuries are preventable by ensuring that you have selected the right equipment and are not overtraining and are using proper technique. When it comes to collision-based injuries the practice of skills in your sport will go a long way to mitigating injury. I would also add that while many athletes know that to get better they must sometimes put themselves in riskier positions. The difference is knowing when the risk is too great and when it outweighs any benefits!

I treat injury-based comebacks very similar to illness-based comebacks with one rather large exception. If the injury was so great as to cause the need for rehab, hospitalization and or surgery I am not only going to need written medical consent from a Dr. but also the proof of completion of rehab and release papers. Depending on the experience level and motivation of the athlete I may join the athlete and their medical/rehab team in person or on a conference call to learn what if any supporting work must continue as part of their rehab process when returning to training. I will also want to know how long the medical team thinks the additional auxiliary training should last and what measures should be taken to prove that the extra effort is working.

I am not a doctor and I do not consider myself part of an athlete’s rehab process. I just want to ensure that the athlete is ready to return to training and in what capacity can he or she should train. This information will ALLWAYS come from the medical team!

The biggest challenges I face with athletes who are making injury-based comebacks are from collision based cycling injuries and medical interventions that required the repair of overuse injuries typically in runners. This isn’t because of concerns over training as much as it is a psychological component rooted in fear and or dismay. Typically athletes who have the toughest time overcoming these injuries were often fearless and unbeatable in their minds. These individuals quickly discover that the human condition can be quite fragile. So I may have to have MANY conversations as they return to training and possibly more as they return to competition. I utilize several things in my coaching practice to help these athletes. Everything from meditation, relaxation techniques, immersive skills development and much more!

Coach Rob goes into a bit more detail on the show on the sports psychology tactics and strategies he utilizes for those having a tough time regaining their confidence. So make sure to listen to the show and not just read the show notes!

Burnout is likely the least common comeback scenario that I have to help orchestrate as a coach. I have however consulted and spoken to many athletes about burnout concerns and have suffered through it myself. Burnout for most means a complete departure from the sport they were once so passionate about. I typically do not apply the word burnout to juniors. Juniors who leave the sport often do so because they find new sports to compete in and their overall development mentally isn’t fully developed so I never think of Juniors who leave a sport as having done so due to burnout. So I typically only apply this scenario to adults and usually Masters level adults. Those that race and compete in the collegiate years and enter the workforce may find it incredibly difficult to keep up with a career and sports but I don’t classify this as burnout. Instead, I think of the men and women who have competed all of their lives or most of their lives continuously are the individuals that more susceptible. This does not, of course, preclude adults that are new to their sport but find after a few years they too are burned-out. To me, burnout quite simply means a complete indifference in the sport you once loved. You no longer want to train or compete but may still participate recreationally from time to time or completely stop all activity.

Coming back from burnout could simply mean taking a short break, getting more rest, eating better, taking a vacation or participating in a completely new sport for awhile or even as a complete replacement.

The tactics I employee to get an athlete back from burnout vary greatly. The athlete and I may have several conversations before training starts back up. We may even investigate what it takes to move over to a complimentary sport or completely different sport.

Coach Rob goes into more detail on the show how he helps burned-out athletes determine what caused their burnout and how to mitigate it from happening again or how to move forward in a new sport. So make sure to listen to the show and not just read the show notes!

Life, career, and family are also a very common comeback scenario that I have to help orchestrate as a coach. I likely see more athletes that are now in a position where their children are grown, their careers are settled and life is now open to new possibilities as a masters level athlete. These adults may or may not have participated much in sports but most who come to me in this scenario was often highly competitive juniors and collegiate athletes that can’t find their way back to what they consider to be their top form. In a few cases I have had some in this scenario who wanted to have the best possible restart and so they hired me to help them make their way through. Many of these athletes were also coached as a junior or collegiate athlete and know how much less painful and time-consuming it can be to have a coach help with their comeback.

In any of the Life, career, and family come back scenarios mentioned I would say that the biggest challenges I face as a coach are correcting bad habits, bringing athletes up to speed on rule changes, technology enhancements, and the biggest of all is tempering expectations.

Coach Rob goes into more detail on the show how he helps those returning to sport after life, career, and family are no longer keeping them from their loved sport. So make sure to listen to the show and not just read the show notes!

Staying Safe was a topic on an old podcast from an old show when I wrote and talked about making a comeback. The old show primarily discussed concerns about bicycles themselves but there are other things that we need to concern our selves with like over training and other equipment concerns.

Cyclists certainly need to think about their bikes when making a comeback from a long layoff. Make sure your bike gets to the LBS for a thorough safety inspection and overhaul. However that just part of the equipment concerns…

Runners need to also reconsider their shoe choices after a long lay off not to mention other age related concerns…

Coach Rob goes into more detail on the show how he discusses returning safely to training and competition. So make sure to listen to the show and not just read the show notes!

All returning athletes should also at the very least think about WHY they left their sport. Write it down; make it a simple statement as to why you left and what you are going to differently this time to ensure it doesn’t happen again!

Music for show intro, outro, and mid-play break: “Jahzzar ( CC BY-SA
Intro and Outro music: Battle from the Crime Scene Album from Jahzzar
Mid-play break music: Please Listen Carefully from the Tumbling Dishes Like Old-Man’s Wishes Album

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