Avoid the Mid-Season Slump

Everyone hits a mid-season slump in such a long season like triathlon, it is important you are able to overcome it and have a strong finish to your season.

Do you ever find yourself in a mid season slump?  There are many times when athletes just hit a bump in the road and their training takes a back seat.  Triathlon seasons can be very long, and hard to get through especially because you do not have teammates to help you through the season.  There are many ways to be pro-active so you do not hit a wall in the middle of the season.  All of our trained professionals at KONA Multisport home of swimbikerun.com are here to help you avoid the mental and physical wall so you can Cross YOUR Finish Line.  KONA Multisport and swimbikerun.com are home to the best triathlon gear, triathlon equipment, triathlon supplies and triathlon apparel that money can buy!  Patrick McCrann of active.com wrote a great article about the middle of the season and how to come out on the other end strong!

Given the year-round athletic lifestyle of the average triathlete, moving from a summer of racing to a winter full of running or skiing, there comes a time of the season where things go south. You might have some flavor of overuse injury, you might be burned out, or maybe you are overtrained.

Whatever the cause, you’re not training right now and it’s the middle of the season you have been focusing on for so long. If your hands are getting cold and sweaty just reading this, then you know what I am talking about—the dreaded mid-season slump.

Symptoms and Solutions

While there is no one single indicator of a slump, here are a few signs you can use to recognize and treat it.

Level One: Mental Fatigue

You feel fine when working out; it’s just that you really aren’t that into it. You are sleeping in and missing otherwise regular training sessions. You are blowing off your training partners and cutting workouts short. You have stopped logging your sessions or tracking any data…it’s as if your heart’s just not into it.

The Solution: You need time away from working out with goals. Triathlon is a lifestyle, but you don’t have to be a slave to it. Find some fun things to do that involve fitness but have minimal requirements. Try inviting friends or joining them in their endeavors. Perhaps a solid work block, where you focus on your office / professional responsibilities, will help you get realigned. Whatever it is, you’ll know you’re ready to return when you start looking forward to that next session.

Level Two: Physical Fatigue

Even if you aren’t really training right now, you’re sleeping as if you are in a peak week. Your resting heart rate is elevated and most of your workouts are more “out” than “work.” You aren’t getting close to your target numbers, numbers you easily hit earlier this year. Your perceived exertion is off; even the easiest rides feels like an interval session.

The Solution: You need to stand down and recover; this general malaise is the precursor to a real problem, and there is no “work” that will help your rest more than actual rest. Initial steps would be to give yourself a week away from structured training, with maybe some fun sessions in there to help you stay sane. If after seven days things still don’t feel right, take two weeks. If that’s still not enough, you’ll need to revisit your overall plan and try to address any larger underlying issues that are preventing you from recovering.

Level Three: Physical Injury

This is the most serious of all three…it means you’ve pushed through the mental and physical limits to the point where you have given yourself some kind of overuse injury. Instead of training right now, you should be in damage-control mode: foam rolling, massage, icing, NSAIDs, etc. Your mood has also suffered considering that your regular routine has been interrupted and your daily dose of endorphins is gone.

The Solution: With races “right around the corner”, it’s hard to slow down because you don’t want to lose fitness. You think, “I’ve made it this far, I can’t stop now.” But you HAVE TO. Remember, the long-term impact of this injury, if not treated, will extend well beyond this season into future years. You must put your training on hold and dive into treatment, being as aggressive, focused and compulsive in recovery as you are with your usual training. Do this and you’ll be back on track in no time. Most importantly, you’ll be healthy enough to quickly regain any lost fitness.

Be Pro-Active

Hopefully, you either have no idea of what I speak or you are smart enough to have planned for it. Experienced athletes have been down in the dumps before, and they know their bodies (and their limits) well enough to make sure that they never truly hit rock bottom.

Think about building mini-breaks into your season at critical points, typically after big events. Stay flexible: Be willing to modify your schedule to maintain fitness swimming, for example, without exacerbating a running issue. And learn your own body so that you develop a standard self-care routine that ensures nothing flares up.

Listen to, and take care of, your body and it’ll help you have a great season.

 

We hope that everyone is having a great and healthy season!

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