A Guide to Stepping Back from Training

A lot of people have been coming up to me at workouts recently expressing something along the lines of “I thought you were retired??”.  First of all I’m not retired from triathlon, however I am taking a self-imposed break.  That does not mean I will be ceasing any exercise, quite the contrary in fact.  This little experiment has taught me just how binary people are when it comes to training, particularly triathlon and the type-A personalities the sport accommodates.  Therefor I felt it an opportune moment to help illuminate my friends and the world in general the difference between committed training and taking a break in the context of the sport of triathlon.

Here we go..

#1: Taking off your watch

Garmin Tan

The easiest to do physically, yet perhaps the hardest mentally is simply removing your Garmin.  Believe it or not YOU CAN participate in exercise without documenting it!!  More so that reduced pressure will allow you to focus on strange new things such as scenic backdrop, the feel of the water or even pleasant conversation.

#2: Activities vs Workouts

Coffee Ride

I’ve been having a great time on the bike and in the pool lately by switching up one critical element.  No scripted workout, no training peaks, no power or pace, just going with the flow.  It’s easy to get addicted to a number, staring at that Garmin for your prescribed intervals, however that tendency is conducive to tunnel vision, and a profound lack of fun.  If it feels good I do it, if not I don’t, this includes waking up early.  Turns out exercise can feel good AND be fun as the pressure comes off.

#3: Not adhering to a plan


The #1 ingredient to success can at times become the #1 detriment to living a fulfilling life, and that’s making a plan.   How many times have I mapped out my race schedule 9 months or more ahead of an A-race??  Years of planning have gone by with calendars and weekends filled to the brim.  How many times have I heard or said myself “I can’t, I have to train”??  Passed on friends, passed on family, on opportunities and life in general.  There’s a nobility in having a goal, making a plan and sticking to it.  Equally so there’s an elegance in actively creating free time.  Currently I have been aiming for at least 1 day a week off script.

#4: Trying new things


New Things

This is a big one!!  Our bodies were never meant to do the same thing day after day, year after year, but particularly our minds as well.  There’s so much out there, ways to stay fit, have fun, connect with different people and express ourselves.  I’ve been saying yes to as many opportunities as fast as they can present themselves and have found a ton of enjoyment in some of the least expected places.  Strength training, boot camps, dance lessons, surfing, hiking and soccer to name a few.  Just go out there and sweat!

#5: Catching up on sleep


Enough said.  Feels like as long as I can remember I’ve been getting up at 5am 5 days a week.  I still get up at 5am every now and then, but it’s more like once a week and because I really want to catch a sunrise ocean swim.  8, 9, 10 even hours a night?!?!  Crazy as it sounds the body will appreciate it.

#6:  Time with family and friends


For a decade I have poured my vacation time and excess cash into racing.  I struggle to remember an instance where I flew somewhere not to race (with the exception of Christmas).  So far this year I have created two trips with the sole purpose of seeing friends and family.  Additionally, you don’t have to fly to do this.  It’s as easy as freeing up time on the weekend, which can be a difficult task in itself when sandwiching between long and strenuous workouts.  If you don’t invest in friends, even the most robust bonds will wither and break.

In Summary…

I have a strong resolution to always be fit, always good to my body.  I’ve come to appreciate the importance of stepping away to build back up, both physically and mentally.  To appreciate things and never feel beholden out of a sense of obligation rather than enjoyment.  I’d prefer to be known for my passion rather than what I pour it into.  I hope this post helps explain my position and dare I say provide the necessary encouragement to step away before giving out.  If it does please let me know!

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