Triathletes, marathoners and other endurance athletes have asked me if I have I taken time off from training. Yes, I do. Don’t I rest? Yes. Do I have a season off from racing? No.
Why do I persistently race and train constantly?
I do so because my fitness has been hard earned. It took me five patient years to build it to this optimal point. Why discharge and dismiss it by having an over-extended rest and recovery period? I reason that I commit to this pursuit because sports is part of my lifestyle, so it is integrated and ingrained into my curiously complex and convoluted life.
Just this morning, my friends stated that they envied me for my active lifestyle of racing whenever I want to; I corrected them. I don’t race wantonly and impulsively. Every race was predetermined, planned and pursued according to a timeline. I just injected more of such challenges and vacations in a year than most people do. As a self-employed professional, I decide on my lifestyle patterns, so I can have my life choices, instead of work-life balance/harmony. Priorities make it challenging to have balance; I experience and engineer dynamic balance. The childhood game of see-saw is not about static balance – it is highly energetic and requires strong core muscles to execute immobility.
When you do something consistently, you develop muscle memory. You refine what you have defined. Does a concert musician have an off-season from practice? Does a Michelin-rated chef stop cooking a few weeks in a year? Do teachers stop teaching? Does a yoga-master stop stretching through her limits? Does an opera-singer stop singing?
Having an off-season may not be that bad. I had an, ‘off season’ in my triathlon performance, but a splendid running season this year. I merely refocused my energies towards running better. My focus in the next season is swimming; and I am realistic about this Achilles Heel. Professional athletes take time off from sports to recharge and rejuvenate their body. If they spent it on training, they will suffer from fatigue – physically, mentally and on a neurological level. Vacationing and having ‘time off’ and ‘time out’ can help them re-focus on their personal lives. Even world-leaders take vacations from their 24/7 ‘day-jobs’.
How can you apply an off-season strategy?
1) Fast one day in a week
2) Be a vegetarian or fruitarian for one day
3) Take no business calls on a Sunday
4) Skip television one day a week
5) Avoid your social media once a week (i.e. Facebook, IM, tweets, blogs)
6) Switch to a different sport instead of your favourite one
7) Learn something new instead of applying something familiar
8) Experience something different or unusual