LIZZIE WELBORN // easing back into training 💪🏊♀️
This blog post was written by Lizzie Welborn.
Restrictions are starting to ease and we are all starting to get back into our normal lives. This also means a lot of us can go back to our normal exercise or training regimes (YAY!). For me, this means getting back into full-time Surf Ironwoman training. Ever since I was young, I have always been the kind of person who gets very excited to start training again once the off-season break has finished. There have been many seasons where I have been so motivated that I started training too hard too early. By the end of the season, I would feel very burnt out and unmotivated, at a time where I probably needed to be feeling my best. Due to COVID-19, I have had a longer than normal break from training and I am once again feeling extremely motivated to get back into the swing of it. However, over the years I have learnt that to avoid burning out I need to ease back into training.
In my sport (Surf Ironwoman Racing) we have an incredibly long competition season. The first race is the Coolangatta Gold in October and the last isn’t until late April with the Australian Titles. That is approximately 45 weeks of training, so most of the year. This is a very long time to try and stay at peak racing fitness and more importantly, a very long time to maintain motivation and drive during training sessions. I am currently tackling all my training sessions with lots of enthusiasm, energy and motivation as I haven’t been able to train properly in so long. It is easy for me to forget that in a few weeks I will be exhausted and fighting the feeling to turn off my morning alarm. Easing back into training allows me to maintain this exciting feeling for as long as possible, before I get tired.
As I find it hard to ease back into training when I am feeling so motivated, I have created myself a few strategies to make sure I do it correctly:
For me, easing back into training means doing one training session a day. When I am feeling good and fresh, I always feel like doing more than one session. However, I know that if I do this a lot early in the season I will quickly tire myself out. Writing down what type of session I am going to do each day helps prevent me from sneaking in extra sessions, as I know they are coming up later in the week. (On a completely different note, I also love doing this because it helps me keep my weeks more organised).
My swimming training sessions usually go for two hours and training at the beach in the afternoon goes from an hour to an hour and a half. When I am getting back into my training routine, I start by doing shorter sessions. This helps me prevent overloading my body too quickly (which can cause injuries), but it also leaves me wanting more. For example, when I started easing back into swimming over a month ago we were only allowed to swim for half an hour due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This was the perfect amount of time to swim for early in the season as it wasn’t enough time to do a super hard set and, because the session was so short, it left me feeling excited for the next session rather than dreading it.
During my ease back into training, I try to feel good for as long as possible. The best thing about pre-season is that I feel no pressure to push myself to the limit at every single session. Pre-season gives me a chance to gradually build up my intensity and to focus on little things, like technique. If I feel terrible and tired after one week of easing back into training it probably means I have done too much. The feeling I try to maintain when easing back into training is: feeling a little bit tired after doing the session, but not so tired that I feel like I can’t get up the next morning for my next session. I really try and cherish this feeling because I know when I get back into proper competition training, I will be missing feeling good.
Finally, the thing I struggle with the most when getting back into training is my improvement. I generally make a lot of improvement within the first 2 months of training because I am working back up to my usual fitness level. These rapid improvements leave me feeling amazing and accomplished. After about 2 months my training starts to plateau, and improvements slow down as I become fitter and stronger. Even though I know getting fitter and stronger is a good thing, I struggle coming off the high of having rapid improvements. This can make me feel pretty down at training as I feel like I am going nowhere. Unfortunately, this is all just part of training and being an athlete. Over the years I have been working on dealing with this feeling, and I am still learning to deal with it now. For any of you who also experience something similar to this, I want you to know that it is really common. When this happens to me, I try to focus on bringing myself back to the process of training and why I love it. I also try to find a positive in every session, even if it was a terrible session. For example, one positive is that I am glad that I simply did the session and gave it a go.
It is an exciting time at the moment with all sports starting to jump back into action. I hope everyone enjoys getting back into training and I wish you all the best for your upcoming sporting seasons!
Stay up to date with Lizzie's training & adventures via her instagram @lizziewelborn