Monday, April 18, 2016

Back to the real world (vacations for athletes?)

One of the things that make vacations special is that they are short respites from normality. In my case, for a week I live a different life... I don't train, I don't work, I don't worry about eating healthy, I have Bloody Mary's and Irish coffee instead of smoothies and regular Joe... pretty much everything I don't do in my normal life.

This is a hard change from the way I previously spent my vacations, at least since I've classified myself as an "athlete." (It's also a hard change from before then, when I spent Spring Break's & vacations doing...something... I can't remember what though.)

In many ways I think endurance athletes are the worst at vacationing, maybe even worse than college kids on spring break. I see it in my Facebook feed, questions posted on forums, and most of all in person going down the roads and beaches in Florida where I normally stay. For many of us (myself included for a very long time) a vacation is nothing more than a change of scenery for our training. Anyone who has even a passing knowledge of my recent history knows I was forced to take a long look at how I handled training and life.

When I was healthy enough to return to training and racing I made it a goal to look at all the aspects of my life that were contributors to my overload. One of the big ones... I took fewer vacations as a whole (instead going on more 2-4 day race weekends) and during my vacations I generally dropped very little volume. In fact, in 2013 I had one of my biggest swim and bike weeks of the year while I was on vacation. Think about that. On my "vacation" I trained more than I did at home. Sure, having no work commitments, miles of paved trails and a giant body of water out the back door go a long way but nonetheless... it's not the best way to get R&R.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I am not active on vacation these days. Despite our terrible bit of weather this time (no sun...sigh) we managed to do some paddle boarding, swimming and a great deal of walking. No, it's not a 2x20 FTP bike ride followed by a Tempo run... but it's not supposed to be. I think one of the great "flaws" we endurance athletes have is a deep rooted (incorrect) fear that fitness is gained and lost in short periods of time. Certainly a week is starting to enter into the de-training zone (once you pass the full recovery phase the first 3-5 day "taper" period grants) but at that point it is still very minimal, possibly (probably) overcompensated for by the rest you gained, especially if you weren't a total couch potato during your trip. The bonus however (at least for me) is that you get a week to unplug from the rigors (mentally and physically) of training. Usually that means that the first day back home I am excited and ready to get back at it! That just doesn't happen when you "train through" your vacation.

Another important thing to consider for the vacationing athlete is nutritional (and just general) health. Traveling is TOUGH on you, whether by sitting in a car for hours or the rigors of air travel. Another harsh change for most (athletes and non-athletes alike) is the dietary change that takes place. Usually vacation means trying new places to eat, often allowing indulgences (appetizers and deserts) that we normally skimp on. It's also usually a good excuse to have a few more drinks than usual (hey, no work tomorrow!) and even sometimes in excess. And all the while, water is generally more essential than ever, and is the thing we drink the least of. I actively make a mental note to drink more water on vacation nowadays and I still very rarely end up with clear pee... something to consider next time you are on the sand.  To try to keep some semblance of health in tact I always travel with my day/night multivitamins (I use Exos, but there are other good choices) and a probiotic. Personally I also take my iron and ZMA's, but those are a little more personal. Regardless, don't be the guy/gal that goes on vacation only to get sick and sit in the hotel all week.

There, that's my little rant about actually "taking a break" when you take a break.

So, I'm back, possibly a little too early for my liking, but excited to get some work done and get back to racing!

Until next time, thanks for checking in! Check out a few pictures of the trip!

- Christopher Morelock

No sun, no sunset... but we still had a good time!
Generally the truth... I'm kind of the PBR of husbandry

I really have no idea why these guys were dressed as sumo's... but they got free drinks so kudos.

The cool shot right before multiple face plants in the ocean.

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