How to do what you love year-round without the negative side effects.
"When you burn all of your matches, you'll have nothing left but regret."
Burnout – that lack of energy to continue training and racing – can derail your love for triathlon, especially when your routine takes precedence over other things in your life. When you train year-round, built-in recovery becomes crucial to avoid burnout.
Over the course of a long triathlon season, there are physical and emotional fluctuations that come from overwhelm and injuries. If you don’t stay ahead of these curves, they can become a full-blown roller-coaster ride that affects your health and mood. Downtime is key.
You don’t want to strain your family's appreciation for your training by being too depleted for them. If you’re too busy or too tired to take out the trash or make dinner or go to the movies, believe me, they will notice and remember.
And if you’re putting your platonic relationships to the side, you’re not making memories with important people in your life. You risk them moving on without you because you don’t have what it takes to show up for them. Don’t forget -- friends have feelings, too.
So you need to take rest and recovery seriously. It should be a pillar of our sport: swim-bike-run-recover. When you think of it that way, it fits easier into a training plan.
Schedule downtime after your workouts. This can look like a simple smoothie break or catching an episode of your favorite show. Take three or four full days off during the month. (This is not the time to build a backyard patio or climb a mountain.) At the end of the season, take a family vacation, and leave your bike at home.
Need more ideas for real recovery? Here you go:
1. Mindfulness: Be aware of how training affects your body and your life. Ask yourself: What can I do better for me and those that live in my world?
2. Proper hydration: If you're properly hydrated, you flush out toxins and prepare your body for the next day's effort. You need both water and electrolytes for proper hydration.
3. Regular massage: massage allows fresh blood to flow and oxygen to heal -- things we need to be stronger, faster, and more fit athletes mentally and emotionally.
4. Healthy calories: On days off, sometimes we think, “I'm gonna go binge. I'm gonna go drink. I'm gonna go have those Oreos -- the whole pack!” Don't overdo it.
5. Other hobbies: Don’t forget to ride the motorcycle parked next to your trainer in the garage. There's no longevity in triathlon unless you feed other interests that keep you curious about life.
You can have an amazing season if you take care of yourself. Self-care is the very thing that makes you feel good every day. So plan it out. Ask yourself: What are three things I can do today to focus on recovery?