The Big Comeback….One Day at a Time
If your trips to the gym are colored with “I remember when I could…,” you aren’t alone. Many of us have had to take a big time-out. Whether you needed to have surgery, had a major injury, started your own business, or expanded your family, life takes over our hobby sometimes. If you’ve been on the bench for more than a few months (or years), starting over can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be!
It’s entirely likely that you feel like you forgot how to swim. Depending on your facility with swimming when you stopped training, your skills might come back after a couple of weeks of regular training or it might take more diligent work over a period of months before you start working on your speed. Some of your skill may not have drifted away, but swim fitness and strength may take a while to come back. Don’t get discouraged, it’s very normal to feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll be comfortable again after a few weeks.
Coming back on the bike might be easier than the swim and the run, but you will probably have to break in your rear again. Regular applications of a bike seat, even if it’s only for ten or fifteen minutes, will help to recondition those sit bones before outdoor riding season arrives again. Bike conditioning is another thing; your cardio output will need some work that is easily done indoors where you can safely take breaks. If you aren’t comfortable with a continuous long ride, you can ride shorter intervals in a long ride and eventually your ability to do long rides will return.
For some, the greatest difficulty is coming back to the run that was left behind. Similar to the bike, the run can be broken up into walk and run intervals. You can lengthen those run intervals regularly until you no longer need the walk breaks and you can even carefully work on speed before your long run capability returns. You may want to do these early runs on a treadmill so that you are in a safe place if you need to stop and walk and collect yourself. A little incline is a good idea, and don’t be afraid of treadmill hill intervals to build strength for injury prevention.
An unintended benefit of a big time-out is the opportunity to retool your form and work on skills you may not have taken time to work on at your previous ability. If you do find yourself in this situation, rejoice! You can spend time on drills and form and as you approach race season you may surprise yourself.
Good luck with your return to competition–have patience and allow yourself the time to recover or even improve upon your previous level of fitness!
Judie Refvik is a USA Certified Triathlon Coach with Experience Triathlon. As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Judie and the Experience Triathlon team help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life. Learn more about Coach Judie and Experience Triathlon at www.experiencetriathlon.com