A running season demands a lot from your body. Although long-term physical training has strengthened muscles and tendon and ligament structures, every athlete needs a break to allow the body to recover and adapt. However, taking a break means a loss of physical tolerance: you must therefore be careful and resume training gradually if you want to avoid injury. We offer you in this article 6 tips to follow when returning from a seasonal break.
1. Accustom your body to the impact
The sport of running is particularly delicate, as the risk of overload injuries is greater due to its high-impact nature. The first phase of resuming training after a seasonal break coincides with re-accustoming your body to repeated impact. The physical stress caused by the action of running is considerable, and we therefore recommend shorter, less intense runs for the first two to three weeks.
If you are starting from scratch, each training session is a step towards improving your shape. Do not focus initially on duration and intensity, but rather on consistency and frequency. Get stronger every day, slowly build up your basic fitness and avoid unnecessary injuries. Your athletic level will return naturally; don’t rush it.
2. Don’t be fooled by motivation
After a long break that you may not be used to, motivation will certainly be sky-high. Here, don’t be swayed by this energy and continue to plan your workouts intelligently. Being well rested, you will feel able to push yourself beyond what is recommended. Don’t make this mistake, and continue to focus on basic training and muscle strengthening. You will have plenty of time to increase loads and intensity. Of course, the best way to keep everything under control is to follow a customised running.COACH training plan.
3. The 10% rule
As explained above, when you return to training after a seasonal break, you need to increase the training load gradually. Obviously every athlete is different, and while some can recover in a few days, others need several weeks. The 10% rule can be used as a general formula: The increase in training volume should not exceed 10% per week.
After returning from the break, we can split and focus our training into 3 distinct areas:
Periods of inactivity lead to increased stiffness in muscles and joints, causing a deterioration in mobility and performance capacity. We therefore recommend that, when returning from a training break, you work on freedom of movement and mobilisation of the joints, checking for any restrictions or tension in your body. Stretching is even more important in this phase, as it develops flexibility and reduces the risk of injury. Do not disdain alternative workouts, such as yoga.
In addition to mobility, muscle size is also reduced after a break from training. Therefore, it is advisable to pay special attention to strengthening the muscles during this time of the season in order to regain fitness and reduce the risk of injury. Combining workouts focusing on cardio and strength is a good strategy to develop different areas of your body simultaneously.
Finally, it’s the turn of endurance, a central element in the life of a runner. Of the 3 areas mentioned, it is the one that suffers most from the training break, as it needs constant stimulation. At the same time, it is also the one that requires the least time to rebuild. To recreate pre-pause conditions, the duration of low intensity sessions should be slowly increased and alternated with some high intensity sprints (always respecting the 10% rule).
4. Recovery takes longer than normal
Compared to when you were physically in top shape, your body needs more time to recover from the efforts of your running workouts. Bones, muscles and joints are stressed and need to gradually adjust and adapt. We therefore recommend giving your body more time than normal to recover during the first few weeks.
5. It’s less hard than you think
Here’s a point to encourage you if you feel out of shape and are afraid of having lost your hard-earned athletic brilliance over the previous months: once you’ve reached a certain athletic level, it’s much easier to return to that level than to keep advancing and improving. So don’t think about how difficult it was to get that fitness, you will regain it more easily than you think!
6. Listen to your body
Finally, a piece of advice that may seem trivial to you, but which is often overlooked: listen to your body, don’t rush to regain a fitness that, if you follow the points described above, will return naturally. Take an extra day off, or add a week of low-intensity training. There is no point running the risk of injury when you have plenty of time to get back to the levels of previous weeks.
And remember, the adaptation period that takes place during the seasonal break allows you to develop your athletic abilities, and better performance will result from the energy and motivation gained during this regenerative phase.