Athletes take breaks from training and competing for a number of reasons. Some are by choice and others are forced by way of injury or illness. Returning to training from a break is one of the toughest things an athlete can do. It requires a mix of experience, patience and trust to be done effectively.
After getting the all clear from the doctor to get back into it, I was faced with the tough task of returning to training after doing nothing for almost a month. As you consider training after some time off, it is easy to be filled with negative thoughts. Feelings of anxiousness can often stem from thoughts of being overweight, out of shape, behind the competition or short on time. These thoughts make it easy to panic and start doing too much before you are ready. This is a golden ticket to poor performance and a huge injury risk likely leading to more time off.
Thoughts similar to these crossed my mind as I considered how to tackle getting back into my training. Thankfully I have a great coach that I have a lot of trust in. I also have a huge belief in myself as an athlete. For these reasons I was able to relax despite constantly seeing updates from triathletes recapping the thousands of miles they put in last year. I have huge goals for 2014 so I am eager to get back into the full swing of training. I also know that in order to reach these goals, I need to stay healthy. The first box to tick in staying healthy is ensuring you don’t do too much too soon. I found it extremely beneficial to remind myself of this as my training got underway.
As I started logging a few miles, I could tell I had lost fitness and was behind where I would be in an ideal world. This can be extremely frustrating for athletes to deal with as it feels like a lot of the work they have done in the past has gone down the drain. I had similar feelings, but I also knew that I was in much better shape than I was at the same time last year. This is the name of the game for improvement in endurance sports, consistency and progression year after year. If I start every year in better shape than the one previous, I am doing the right things.
With these thoughts in mind, I was able to knock out my first week of training doing about 8 hours total. This is obviously much lower than what I would expect my training to be, but it is a stepping stone to having a successful year. I am looking forward to getting back into some structured training next week and seeing the fitness quickly return.
In the meantime, I have been undergoing a lot of tests on my heart that have all come back clear. This is a huge relief to me as I was extremely worried my heart may have been causing some of my issues. It is frustrating still being in the dark as to what has been the cause of my problem but I am thankful that my legs, heart and mind are in good shape. After all, I believe these are the three things that drive you to success in anything you do.
If the New Year marks a return to training, or the beginning of a new chapter, remember to be patient, trust yourself and use your experience to be the best you can be in 2014.