And so we come to the end of another season of wonderful events, super performances and terrific stories created by ZigZag clients - and a pretty full-on, Hurly Burly challenge for me to end my season on a memorable high.
This post could just as well be titled "Can we stop now?!" as over the last few weeks I've had conversations with almost all my clients - and now with myself - about having a recovery rest period.
There's also a bit about looking ahead and coaching opportunities too, so stay with it!
Most of the conversations (including the ones with myself) seems to go the way of "I hear what you're saying about needing a rest… but maybe I'll just keep going a bit longer". It's as if, having worked so hard to build up our fitness for our big events, we're reluctant to let go and give proper time for recovery.
Whether you've had a long season of trying to get the very best out of yourself over several different events (as several clients who are relatively new to triathlon and surprised themselves with the extraordinary things they did) or have peaked for one big one (like two clients who did brilliantly in Ironman Barcelona just the weekend before last) - I think the basic principles are the same.
These are: first, be kind to yourself and delight in your activities. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do - even if occasionally times or positions don't work out as hoped for. In reviewing the past season be grounded in a sense of what really counts.
Second, it kind of goes without saying, but rest and recovery are fundamental to fitness. For the body to adapt to the extra stresses of training it has to be allowed to recover - and this applies in the mix of training week by week as well as in the phasing of year long programmes.
Third, and just in case this has already turned off those who just want to keep going, rest and recovery does not mean doing nothing! We are all active people so the idea of sitting on a sofa for a week, two weeks, three… its not going to work! As I now start a three week rest period I'm thinking I might do the odd sea swim if the weather is okay (we're three minutes by flip flop from the beach), some nice long hikes over the South Downs, maybe get the mountain bike out to explore new routes or remind myself of old favourites… but nothing that looks, feels or smells like training.
Maybe use the extra downtime to try something new - yoga or pilates? dip in and explore an interest outside of sport that you've been wanting to get into but felt there was never the time?
This way, come November you'll be in such a better frame of mind and body to start gradually building up to new levels of fitness for the following year's challenges.
On which note, I'm already starting to enrol clients for the coming twelve months. This last year, for the first time, I took on several clients for the whole year as well as taking on clients at different stages in the year who wanted to peak for specific one-off events. It seems to have worked really well. Working together for a year meant we could plan beyond any one single event, be more flexible in the focus of coaching support and able to seize exciting, unforeseen opportunities that came up. If this kind of way of working, making a commitment over 12 months, is for you get in touch - places are limited and going now!
As for my own challenges in the coming year - well it starts with recovering from some wonderful, very full on events! These started back in June with my first SwimRun in Lake Windemere, then the Outdoor Swimming Society's Bantham Swoosh and Dart 10k and have now come to an end just last weekend with about the toughest swim event I've ever done: the Hurly Burly. As if the 10km swim wasn't going to be enough, I opted for starting with the 10km run down the river to then swim back up.
Have a look at super photographer Vivienne Rickman-Poole's photos that capture the event in all its natural wildness, excitement and fun (including me grinning stupidly as I cross the bridge at Barmouth, oblivious to the hairy scary, hurly burly swim about to hit me) here.
And please use the comment box below if you'd like to share any novel ideas for things to do in your recovery phase. Then enjoy your rest!