Finally, it’s that time of the year – the evenings are getting darker later, and it’s lighter earlier in the mornings. Even the temperature is slowly creeping up into double digits. And the best part? You and pjuractive are finally both back from the winter break and ready to start training again! Maybe you’ve already got your bike ready to go and put your running shoes by the door? Great, because we’ve got a couple of extra tips for you to get your running and cycling off to a great start after any kind of break.
Why the offseason is so important for you and your recovery
It doesn’t matter what your sport is, or what your training plan or season plan looks like, an offseason, or break for recovery, should be part of your annual training plan. In general, recovery is important for your physical performance all year round. So, every few weeks you should schedule a week with lighter training sessions. But your tendons, ligaments, your immune system and your fasciae need even more recovery time than that. You should treat your body to the recovery time it needs for at least four weeks. But even longer would be better! Because you can only demand that your body perform at its very best if you have given it enough time to recover properly.
Unfortunately, a lot of athletes struggle with the idea of an offseason. They worry about loss of performance. Of course, you will see a short-term drop in performance after a break. But in the long run, a recovery period reduces the risk of injury or sickness in the new season, and means you are fully rested, ready to start a new, successful training season.
The following tips will help you get the new training season off to the best possible start!
Running shoes on again: tips for runners who are lacing up their running shoes again after a break
You might feel super motivated again after the winter break, and naturally want to run your longest distance in your best time, but you still need to hold back at first. Your body needs to slowly get back into its stride after the winter break. For the first few weeks, your main goal should be to get yourself used to structured training sessions again. Otherwise, you risk getting injuries that could force you to stop training again for even longer. Plus, you need to give yourself room to improve over the course of the season ?
After a longer break from running, it’s not a great idea to train with your first race already planned and in the back of your mind. It’s far better to get back into training before signing up for the first running events of the season. Or alternatively, you can even plan a gap between when you start training and your first race. Otherwise, you risk training either too fast or too much, and overexerting your body.
How long did you take off from running to recover? The length of time you had off will impact the speed at which you can return to your old training schedule again. So, if you took a break of two to four weeks, you can start off doing 60% of your previous running training. If your break lasted one to three months, you should start off at 50%. And for longer than three months, we recommend that you start with a re-introduction plan.
It is particularly important to listen to your body after a longer break. If you notice that your muscles ache a lot, that you’re not making any progress, or that you are constantly tired, this could be a sign of overtraining or an overload.
So, when you start running again after a longer break, whether you want to train for your next marathon or simply get active again over the coming warmer months, keep our tips in mind. It’s the only way to successfully restart your running training. We’ve summarised our running tips for how to start your training season again here:
- Start with a short distance, so you can slowly get used to running again.
- Only plan your first race once you’ve started training again – not beforehand.
- Make sure you plan your return to training to match your running break.
- Listen to your body. Overexertion or overtraining can limit your training success right from the start.
Back on the bike: tips for the cyclists out there
For those of you who prefer to get on your bike than pull on your running shoes, there are a few things to bear in mind if you’re planning on doing a couple of laps on your bike. At first, you’ll notice that you can probably still manage long distances, but your speed and power have dropped. It will take a while before you can go as fast as you could before over certain distances.
Just like with running, after a longer break from cycling it is important to start slowly. It’s best to start out with flat routes and only build inclines into your training route after a few sessions.
You should also start by going on shorter rides more often. It’s best to limit yourself to training sessions that are shorter than an hour. This will not only slowly improve your performance; it will also prevent you from getting unnecessary muscle aches and from hurting your sit bones by sitting on your saddle for too long.
To start with, just concentrate on yourself. This means leaving all the measuring devices, heart rate monitors and speedometers behind, and simply cycling. Gradually you can start looking at your speed, cadence and all those other things that affect your performance when cycling, and then adapt your training accordingly.
Most importantly, begin by planning a rest day after every training ride so that your body has time to recover and get used to the workload.
So, let’s summarise our tips briefly again for cycling after a long break:
- Start cycling again slowly and limit your first training rides to one hour at most.
- Begin by cycling short routes more often. This makes it easier for your body to get used to cycling again.
- Focus on your body. There will be time for measuring devices, heart rate monitors and speedometers once you’re back to training regularly again.
- It is essential to include a rest day in your schedule after every training day, particularly at the start.
Whether you’re training for your next marathon or triathlon, or simply want to get active again – starting to train after a long break can be harder than you think. But if you take our advice, we can start an exciting new training season together!
Image sources: shutterstock_608739416, pexels-karl-solano-2729899, pexels-pavel-danilyuk-5807630