Taking Time Off

Everyone should have a life outside training for and racing triathlons, yet at times it feels that we exist only to do just that. We sleep, eat, train, and rest, over and over, throwing in some work, house chores, significant other face time when we can. We need to remember that triathlon is best addressed as a lifestyle and not an obsession, so that we can keep things in balance. When we take time away from our busy lives for vacation, we should not feel bad that we’re missing out on training days, we should embrace the change, the chance to refresh our batteries, and then to come back with renewed vim and vigor.


Having just returned from a wonderful two week vacation myself, up to Alaska for the first time, on a Un-Cruise Adventure tour, I was faced with packing running shoes or not to save space and a swim cap in goggles which didn’t take up much space. I packed my shoes but never went for a run, but I did don the cap and goggles to help me when I took the Polar Bear Plunge, opting to swim out to the skiff and back versus just jumping in and quickly (smartly?) getting out like most sensible people did. Check out the video below to see the crazy old guy in his board shorts swimming in Alaska!


Knowing that I’d be missing two weeks and two long weekend rides, I of course felt like my fitness would suffer, but in reality it really doesn’t go away that fast. It takes our bodies 7-10 days to absorb and adapt to each day’s training, so I would actually just be in a long recovery phase, losing just a bit of fitness, while enjoying the time off from structured training. My first day back on the bike was a little tough, while my body adapted to having to propel itself with some verve, versus a nice wake up yoga class on deck while the wonderful scenery of Alaska passed by, or an easy day hike or guided kayak tour with my wife.


Back on the bike my brain felt like I was working hard, while my HR was staying low, so I think what we really feel is just out of sorts with our normal training levels and not any substantial decrease in overall fitness. Yes, if I had been training for a short and fast swim, bike, run, or triathlon, I would have lost that final edge of speed, but for most of us, putting in the time, not peaking for an event, 1-2 weeks off from focusing training to enjoy the other side of our lives, away from the world of triathlon, can be a good thing.

The general rule of thumb is that for every week you take off (without any kind of work outs, say due to an injury), it takes one week to regain your form. Two weeks off = two weeks to regain your fitness, 3 weeks off = 3 weeks to regain your fitness…


So if you catch yourself saying no to vacations or events away from home because you think you can’t afford to miss out on your training, rethink what you’re saying. Take some time to enjoy time away from our sport; it’s a good thing in the long run.


Link to the Polar Bear Plunge:



Notes on the Plunge:

1 – I didn’t feel the cold at all, the water temp being in the middle 40’s, as I was focused on just breathing. After 10 seconds or so of swimming I could feel my chest constricting, my breathing becoming labored, as I wondered about my choice of actually going for a swim.

2 – I reached the boat feeling pretty bad and the mate and adventure guide asked me if I was okay, to which I of course replied “I’m feeling great!”, then I weakly attempted to backstroke part way back wondering if I’d have to call for a water rescue, still suffering from lack of oxygen to my muscles/brain.

3 – I rolled over hoping to pick up speed and then realized that I couldn’t get my face back into the water, while I struggled to bring in more air.

3 – There’s a pretty good current out there and I was being swept away from the boat, but I was also wondering if they moved the boat? Sure seemed like a long ways back, but maybe my bodies reflex to cut off blood flow to my arms and legs to save my core wasn’t helping my stroke or kick!

4 – I finally made it back to the boat, having been in the water probably less than a minute, got a hand back on board and actually felt fine standing up, smiling even. They lunged at me with a towel but I didn’t appear to be in too much shock, so they quickly went back to work launching other folks in the cold water.

5 – After 5 minutes or so of standing around saying how bitchin we all were for jumping in the water, watching the video my wife took of me, the cold started to sink in and I started to shiver, so off I went for a hot shower.

One thought on “Taking Time Off

  1. Fred,

    This polar bear swim story is great – nice to see that you do stupid things to your body on occasion as well!


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