The following post is written by coach Suzie Richards.
The alarm went off this morning at 5.45am.
I got out of bed, pulled my swim costume on, tried to find clothes that may match, in the dark this is always harder than I realise. (I feel I am being a considerate girlfriend for not turning the light on. Though I do regret this, when I arrive at the pool, with clothes that clash).
Well done Suz, you made it to morning swim training
I give my self an imaginary pat on the back, as I dive into the water.
It is a bigger deal, than you may realise. Rewind 3 weeks ago, the alarm would go off, I would roll over, turn it off and go back to sleep. I lacked motivation, I felt washed up, burnt out. The training dairy became red, sessions left undone, I had no va va voom. I got upset, I got frustrated, why was I so tired? I had raced once, way back in March, in Lanazarote. You can read more about that here. And then I underwent surgery on my heel. I hadn't trained for 12 weeks. I then started cycling and swimming, but with little volume and low intensity. I don't need a break. I've had a 5 month break I thought. I was wrong. I needed a break, not just from swim, bike, run but from rehab, from thinking about my heel, from looking at a training diary, from believing I should be doing some training, but mainly I needed a break from thinking about Triathlon.
So last week I went to Spain. My mum lives out there, it was a good excuse to pack some books, sun cream and arrive with no plans. We had a good few days, picking vegetables from her allotment, snorkelling in the sea, walking in the mountains and reading. I then headed off south on the train to Totana, to spend a week at Rustic Retreats, a environmentally friendly, off grid yoga retreat. I spent a week living under canvas, eating incredibly fresh healthy food, cooked by the skillful Elliot, practiced meditation and yoga for 2 hours each morning and evening and learned about Yoga philosophy, Chinese medicine, energy systems, the seasons and much more in a whole host of workshops. I got to know the 11 other yogi's and learnt a lot from the brilliant Yoga teacher Bec Black, who's philosophy 'It's all about the Balance' was central to the week.
Everyone's idea of a 'break' and a 'holiday' is different. For me, this was perfect. I knew it was exactly what my mind and body needed right now.
I knew I needed to spend time in a completely different environment, I needed to be kind to myself, to energise and nurture myself. Triathlon is tough, I think I often forget that. Getting up early to swim 5 times a week, riding and running in all weathers, going to the gym, eating well and while trying to be the best girlfriend, friend, daughter, sister, employee I could be. I needed to take a break, and take some time to focus on the Niyamas, one of Patanjali's 8 limbs of Yoga. The Niyamas include, self care and health.
I understand a Yoga retreat is not for everyone, a trip to Spain is not possible for everyone. But I do whole heartedly believe, taking a 'break' whatever that maybe is definitely beneficial for everyone. Taking time away from swim, bike, run. Time away from looking at your training diary, from looking at potential races, from the ' normal routine', is I feel vital for a healthy mind and body. I am not advocating for triathletes to sit on the sofa, eat rubbish and put on weight. I do not think this falls under 'self care'.
For me, I think finding a balance, feeling refreshed, physically and mentally and being kind and caring to yourself should be central to the idea of ' taking a break' and the 'off season' . When should I take a break? Your mind and body will know when you need a break.
A beneficial way of using your break is to reset your body and sort out any niggles and injuries. Coach Suzie and Sarah Pitts from MostMotion have joined forces to create "October reset your body- Mobility, Strength and Conditioning". A series of 5 S&C videos, specifically for triathletes to understand their areas of tightness, imbalances and weaknesses. You can read more about it and sign up here. Remember Team Oxygen Addict members get £10 off.