Some athletes find it hard to switch off from sport, but I love and cherish my five week break every year. So, with my last race of the season done, it was time to down tools, destress and recover.
In this time, the structure and disciplined life I am used to goes out the window as I don’t need to base my days, weeks, eating habits and sleeping around training times! Without needing to worry too much about conserving energy for training or injuring myself (within reason!), I like to kick off my break like a normal twenty-something-year-old by taking part in all manner of activities like wakeboarding and jetskiing.
This is the only time of year where we athletes have the time to relax, so I went to Wales for a weekend with a number of other European athletes for an adventure weekend – again, not within the normal realms of an athlete’s lifestyle! And, of course, I spent some quality at home in Waterford with family, which is often rare as I am based in Limerick for training.
Autumn is not just a time to chill, however; it also serves a purpose in the overall training plan for the year. In any sport, recovery periods between training sessions are vital in order to let the body adapt to the training loads that it has been subject to, and also to prevent burnout by overtraining, both mentally and physically.
Professional sport is a 24/7 job – every decision we make around daily activities, food intakes, rest, etc., is entirely guided by the question: “Will this affect my performance in the next training session or competition?”
Neither the body nor the mind can sustain such a high level of focus and training load for twelve months of the year, every year. This time is therefore invaluable to recharge the batteries. That’s why it’s so important to have services like Affidea’s on my doorstep, to get a quick scan when I need one, like in Waterford when I’m home and Tallaght’s new flagship centre when I’m up in Dublin for business.
We then come back to training refreshed and entirely ready to build the body back up again for the major championships the following summer. I then look forward to getting back into a routine and pushing myself further than the previous year, putting my body through its paces in the tough winter slog!