The mid-season break and why you need it

By Luke Ehgoetz

So the sun is out, the birds are singing and the temperature has finally and consistently warmed up. You’ve put in some great weeks (or even months) of training since coming out of your basement in the spring and it’s likely you have a race or two under your belt so far this year. You’re on a roll, but should you be thinking of dialing things back for a week or so right in the middle of summer? There are many reasons to answer yes to that question, and I will outline a few of them below.

It is not uncommon for athletes to think that continuing to train after a peak race while in top condition will get them closer to season goals, but in reality, a mid-season break could be the best thing you do for your training and end of season goals.

To ensure your physical and emotional longevity in triathlon, which is different from other sports. Triathlon is a lifestyle that requires the time to prepare, train and recover for the three different sports. In addition to the physical recovery gained from a mid-season break are the psychological rest and re-focus benefits.

Here are some ways a mid-season break is beneficial for any triathlete.

  1. The ability to peak for multiple races. Planning an A or B race early in the summer with a mid-season summer break can allow you to target another A race early in the fall.
  2. The time to refocus. Taking a planned break allows you time to reflect on the training and racing that you have done in the first half of the season and you can then assess whether or not you need to make any changes for the second half and potentially your A race later on. It also allows you time to remind yourself why you are committed to your multisport lifestyle and what you gain from being a multisport athlete.
  3. Allows your body time to rebuild and become stronger and healthier. Taking a sufficient break after a period of early season training and racing makes you less susceptible to injury and allows you to time to rebuild and prepare for your next training and racing block.
  4. Catch up on life and family. During this break, you can finally get to some of those obligations and projects that you have neglected up to this point, or spend some quality time with the family. Planning your mid-season break around a family vacation or a known work trip where training would be difficult anyway makes perfect sense. Just make sure those neglected projects aren’t too strenuous that they defeat the purpose of the break in the first place (ie. Building a deck or moving big boulders during a landscaping project).

How do you incorporate a break during race season? The best time to take a mid-season break is right after a peak race, whether it’s sprint or iron-distance. Try to plan your racing so that you can conveniently take your break and enjoy other life obligations that make training close to impossible.

A mid-season break can be anywhere from a week up to two weeks. You can (and should) still be active, but do not do any hard training or intensity work, and maybe stop looking at Strava 3 or 4 times per day. Just remember not to jump in where you left off when you get back into training. You will need to build up again, but chances are, you have not lost as much as you think you have. In fact, it will not take you long to see how much you have gained from taking that mid-season break.  So put the feet up, grab a drink and picture yourself crushing your final few races of the season refreshed and ready to go!