Monday, November 25, 2013

Anatomy of a Two Week Break

After Rev3 Florida I embarked on one of the most challenging times for an athlete---the off season. For me, this included a two week break from activity. Since a daily dose of exercise keeps me happy and functioning effectively in mind and body I knew the next 14 days would be difficult at times but very important for recovery after a long racing season.

Here are the four stages of a two week break, as I experienced them (everyone is different this is just what I went through):

Stage 1: JOY

I had no worries. It was lovely. This lasted a few days.


After I caught up on sleep, did some laundry, laid around and ate lots of food I kind of wanted to do a loosen up session. This is when I "cheated." However, it was for a good cause. I had to test some wetsuits for Roka. Plus, the swims were only 800 yards on Wednesday and then 2000 yards on Thursday so they don't really count.

Then, in an effort to keep myself out of the pool I subjected myself to this:

At Black and Blue Tattoo in San Francisco.
It is a rule that you can't swim for 2 weeks post tattoo (a rule I used to break in college...oops). I don't want to lose any color from the new work so I am following the rules. You also have to endure a bit of pain getting a tattoo so it was a challenge in that regard. However, this diversion tactic is a dangerous one to employ. I could end up looking like the painted lady in a few years if I get a tattoo to keep myself out of the water.


By the end of the first week I had completely accepted my predicament and embraced it. I read books in the sun (thank you California!), went to a movie at 10:30am and ate a normal breakfast when I woke up instead of breakfast #1, train, breakfast #2. I had a road bike fit which took up the entire afternoon and I got in 20 minutes of spinning so that kept me happy. This is probably considered another "cheat" to the ultra strict but I think it was okay. Andy commented that I was doing a "really good job of relaxing." I started to feel a bit plump but I think it was just a lack of activity vs. actually gaining a ton of weight. I ate sensibly and completely cut out any sports nutrition so I don't think I overdid it too much. Plus, I don't drink so I did not get puffy from alcohol. When I was a swim coach in Chicago I could always tell when the kids overindulged those first few weeks of school---many were "puffy." Sorry guys, you did not fool me; I was in college too, albeit a LONG time ago.

Stage 4: PANIC

This past Friday I was feeling excited about getting to exercise on Monday but I also had a bit of apprehension. I worried I would never be fit again. I was also starting to freak out about my swimming stroke. I always feel terrible when I first get back in the water. I can't feel the water and my stroke is all wrong and foreign. It is simply awful for me. I am worried I will lose all the improvements I have made to my freestyle this year. I was never a freestyler so I have been focusing on some technique this year that has helped me swim faster but over the weekend I became convinced my body would never remember those changes and my stroke is never going to be the same. I told Andy I was heading for a run on Monday and he said "you are going to be so gassed" followed by laughter.

It is Monday now and I have endured my first run back. I did not feel super light on my feet and fit but it felt really good to get out and run on the trails. On Wednesday I will do my first swim so a bit of worry still remains but I know it will be fine. The first 10 days will probably be ugly but that is okay; I managed a two week break every year in college (fueled by partying--no worry or panicking then) and swam faster the following season. So, embrace the time off, reconnect with family and friends and remember the crappy out of shape feeling will pass and you will be fit again!


  1. Your mother and I suggest continuing to write more during your breaks. That's a workout for the mind and spirit, will improve your already excellent writing, your enjoyment of writing, and pave the way for even more writing after you "retire." Love, Dad

  2. Hmm, I haven't tried that technique yet...