CRNZ coach Tim Brabants offers his pearls of wisdom on paddlers returning to training after a break.
Over the many years I was kayaking competitively, I would have time out from the sport for a variety of reasons.
Usually at the end of the season after whatever major competition that year, I would take 3-4 weeks of rest and recovery time before starting to train again for the next season.
Twice in my career I had break of 18 months to focus on studies/work and one time I had a significant shoulder injury requiring surgery which forced me out of a boat for 6 weeks.
It is important to use the time out constructively. I have always believed you can only train as hard as you can recover.
Whilst we all want to make gains through training, time out from the daily grind provides valuable opportunities to stop and think as well as allow the body and brain to reset and recover.
It is quite normal to feel like you have loads of energy and a certain amount of frustration during this time to get back to training!
The key is to use this energy to evaluate the previous season, consider the goals you set, how close you are to achieving them and then set/adjust goals to aim for moving forwards.
It may be performance related goals, technical, lifestyle, educational or career. As an athlete we have to constantly balance all these areas with a shifting focus and energy expenditure.
Use the time to speak with you coach, teachers, colleagues, family and friends about your plans moving forwards. With a fresh brain and body you will often find you can think and plan with more clarity.
During the down time, it is worth keeping active to some degree. An occasional paddle, run, swim or bike is ideal. Nothing too hard that would compromise recovery.
Participation in other sports is enjoyable and can help build transferable skills. Even a low key event to participate in can be fun and rewarding. I did a few triathlons and trail run competitions in some of my longer periods off the water.
If you normally do gym training as part of your weekly program, it is a good idea to do a little bit of maintenance to minimise the muscle soreness from returning to gym after a break.
After a well used and well deserved rest time, you will come back to the water happy, healthy and motivated to progress even further!