The importance of taking a break

Posted: September 17, 2014 in Tips & Hints
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One of the things I most love about cycling is its seasonality.  Just when you’re starting to get bored with road, track comes along; then just as you couldn’t ride around in another circle, its road season again!

With this change in season comes renewed motivation… you’ve changed bikes and can’t wait get out there and put it to good use!  This, for me, is where potential problems arise.

Both track and road seasons are long seasons: road runs from when you finish track (this will vary depending if you ride Track Nationals) right up until around now (post-Road Nationals) – that’s some seven-months by my calculations.

Track now kicks off with the first round of the NJTS (early-October) and runs through to late-February or early-March – call it five-and-a-half-months.  But you don’t want to hit the first round of the NJTS without some track kilometres in your legs, so maybe add another month or so to this.

Any how, you get the picture… it’s very easy to jam 13 or 14-months of training into a year.. and that’s without taking a break!

Why is a break important?  In speaking to coaches it’s important to give young bodies a chance to be completely stress free; to recover, repair, grow and revitalise.  All coaches will tell you about the importance of rest – daily, weekly and, in this case, six-monthly.  A period of time where you don’t touch the bike or do any cross-training (unless its for fun!).

Sports physcs will concur and stress how important a mental break is for dedicated athletes – young or professional alike.

Take time to hang-up the bike and give your body a chance to fully recover from the rigours of full-time training.

Take time to hang-up the bike and give your body a chance to fully recover.

So, what’s the right length for a break?  Kind of depends.  If you’ve had a long season and powered right through, a minimum of two-weeks is thought about right.  If you’ve had a season interrupted with injury or illness then you probably need less time off the bike.  So there is no right answer, needless to say, you should be scratching the walls to get back on the bike when the rest is up!

When is the right time?  The most obvious time is between seasons, but I think we need to look at our broader timetable.  Is there a family holiday coming up?  Is there a school camp on the horizon?  Are you trying to manage two peaks in your season?  Choose a time that suits you and your goals (and your family) best.  If you have a coach, ask them to schedule it into your program.

I’m no coach, but having been involved in the sport now for some seven years, I’ve seen kids burnout from a lack of rest.  I’ve seen them hang up the bike for good and seen them go from on form to completely out of form almost overnight, and you can tell its because their body is crying out for a break.

Don’t take my word for it, look to the pros you aspire to be… they ensure they get a good break – often up to a month off the bike – every year.

“Bring on track” is the cry doing the rounds… but make sure you schedule in your break as well.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not going super well in October, its how you’re going in February that really counts!

  1. Janice says:

    Best advice ever!

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