Rest, Re-set, Re-load

Resting and taking a break is a key feature in almost every book or study about training.  Most athletes have an annual cycle for peaking, and after peaking they will generally take 4-8 weeks off from specific training.  Don’t kid yourself that this is a lazy time.  Top-tier athletes spend so much time and energy training for thier specific sport/event, that they have little time for other fun stuff.  This is when they go do those things. 

After resting and letting the body recover from a difficult season, the first training should be to re-set your body for training.  For most people/sports this means getting the body enough overall fitness to be able to do the specific training later. 

After re-setting the body, it’s time to re-load for your goals.  This is when you bring back the sport specific training.

Using myself as an example:

I decided to take about 6-8 weeks off of climbing(nov to mid-dec).  I pushed hard all summer and feel like I had a breakthrough year. I’m still feeling strong and motivation is still high, but  I lots of little things in my body are telling me they need a break.  Instead of pushing on climbing( and likely hurting myself), I’m going to play and have fun skiing, running, snowboarding, and playing soccer.   My aim is to be doing 2-3 days a week of general conditioning (mainly Mike Barcom’s workouts), 2-3 days of cardio(run/bike/ski), and 2-3 days of fun stuff(soccer, snowboarding, etc.).

After taking the 6-8 weeks off climbing, I’ll start by adding in low-intensity climbing to get my body used to moving on the wall again building up to a fairly high volume of low intensity movement.  In conjunction with this, I’ll be doing strength training for climbing related muscle groups.  I’ll do this for about 6-8 weeks taking me to around early Feb, then transition to power-endurance work for another 6-8 weeks.   Around early April I’ll shift to power to prepare for summer bouldering.  Hopefully, having an initial peak in May/June, then re-grouping in June/July for a second peak in August/September.

I tend to do well with structured training, some people don’t.  Either way, pay close attention to what your body is telling you, becuase there are normally signs that you’re in the red-zone and on the verge of an injury.   All fall I felt strong, but there were also very subtle signs and aches.  I could tell I was walking a fine line, and this time I got lucky I didn’t cross it.  In the past, I wouldn’t have paid attention to those subtle signs/feelings and I would have neded up injured. 

If you don’t plan a rest for your body and always push hard, eventually you’ll end up taking a break through injury.

I’m getting back to climbing Sunday – Hopefully it’ll go well, and I’ll have another productive injury free summer.