Unless you are on the far extreme of the Type A/”Driver” personality spectrum, it’s likely you took some time off this fall. Whether that time off was driven by the physical need for recovery or the mental desire for a little break from structured training, there are certain principles that will help you stage a more successful comeback when you decide to get back at it.
Forget Everything You’ve Done
Regardless of what you accomplished this past season it is important to clear your head from where you’ve been and focus on where you’re at. Grind out regular 5 hour bricks leading up to IM WI? Great. That was August. It’s now November and if you haven’t been in the saddle since you last racked your carbon steed in T2 then forget about measuring your new workouts by the hour. You’ll get there again. Just not next week.
Listen to Your Body
All your old heart rate and power zones are pretty useless after time off. Put the hear rate monitor away and ignore the PowerTap. Get out there and tune into your body and what it is telling you both during and the morning after your workout.
Focus on Frequency
Instead of trying to grind out big miles or get back to high intensity sessions, focus on high frequency of training (i.e. the number of times you work out per week). Instead of, say, your normal two x fifty minute swims per week, try to hit the pool four times for 30 minutes. The increased frequency will allow your body to adapt more efficiently to the movement and get you back into a normal routine quicker. Same goes for other disciplines, especially running.
True, keeping intensity relatively low at the start is the safest play. However, throwing in a couple C races or marker sets isn’t a bad idea either. If you are a marathoner, find a local 5 miler or 6k to race. If you are an Oly-distance triathlete, find a 5k run or an ultra short indoor tri at the local Y. The shorter race will give you an idea of where you’re at and establish a new baseline against which you can measure future performances.
Keep it Entertraining
If you think working out is a dread now then your life will hell by the time spring rolls around. Regardless of what you do, keep it fun and keep it entertaining. We all have favorite work sets on the track and in the pool. Now more than ever is the time you can justify doing those over and over while avoiding the sessions that feel like a grind.