While a lot of riders prepare to race Giro Rosa, unlike last year I decided to skip the Italian race this year. I am not necessarily a big fan of this race, for several reasons which go from “I am not Italian” to “I don’t like racing in high temperatures” . But the most serious reason is that I planned my season slightly different this year compared to the years before. With more races on the calendar, some of the races I planned to be good at changed dates, making a traditional mid-season break in May impossible. So I opted for two smaller breaks instead, one begin of april and one now first week July. I have been racing every week over the past two months starting at Tour of Yorkshire and with two hard stage races, Bira and Women’s Tour, and lots of traveling, it was really about time to put the bike aside for a few days. August and September have some nice races still to offer and if I want to be a valuable rider for the team there, riding the Giro would be the worst idea ever, and I learned out of my mistakes from last year.
So here I am, bikes locked away, thinking about how I can plan those few days to recover in the best way possible but still avoiding boredom. Tip and Tricks to follow:
- Get off social media
I better start with the hardest tip and trick. I really hope there are still people in the world not addicted to social media, but most of the people I know in cycling definitely are, me included. While it is a great tool to share our stories, to make our sponsors happy, to keep in touch with friends or to kill time while being on the road, it is also without any doubt the most efficient way to lose your time and to prevent you from doing way more important things. While it might help to stay in touch with people you don’t see that often, it also keeps you away from taking a break from what you are doing day in, day out. So better stay away from it for a few days. Most of the time I just delete all or part of my apps from my phone. It might be frustrating at the start but after a while it gets easier. Try it and let me know how long it took you before opening your Appstore again.
- Get things done you were too tired to do before
I have been feeling pretty tired the past few weeks and doing anything that needed my brain to work a minimum wasn’t really possible to do. I have for example been pushing backwards the writing of this blog for a few weeks already. Now I feel like I have time to settle down and think about an interesting subject or a nice way to write what I had in mind. There is a lot more on my To Do list, but I feel confident that by the end of the week all the list will be well done and not quickly and wrongly done. After a few days off you shouldn’t hide behind a “I am too tired for this” anymore. You can finally mow the lawn, before it turns hopelessly into a jungle, take your friends out to the restaurant because you don’t fall asleep anymore before 8pm or watch a movie and actually watch it until the end. A whole new world might await for you.
- Don’t wear casual team clothing
When I have the chance to go on holiday during my break, I try to pack only non-team casual clothing. This might be a small detail, but not having to wear what you have to wear the whole year turns the break into a real holiday. We are lucky enough at Boels Dolmans to have great casual clothing and after 5 years on the team my stock of team clothing outreached my normal clothing by far. It would actually be way easier for me to just always wear my team clothing, but I have noticed that there is something satisfying about getting to wear the clothing you have actually chosen and bought yourself. Call me mental, but I swear it helps switching off.
- Stay active but differently
In between races, travelling and training we all try to avoid any other physical activity in order to recover well in-between the sessions. While offseason breaks offer the possibility to do different sports (some are even running marathons…) I try to do the same during my midseason breaks but in less extreme. Not doing anything makes me turn nuts, doing too much won’t allow me to get the needed recovery, so I always try to find a good middle way. I try not do to anything for the first half of my break ( 3-4 days) and doing what I feel like the rest of the week. It might just be nothing as it might be smaller coffee rides, a swim in the pool, a paddle across the lake or a sunset walk. Not feeling more tired than before, and feeling happy and satisfied about my activity is all that counts. No Garmin, no rules.
- Break the rhythm
My normal training days are well scheduled. I get up at 8 am (my teammates like to tell everyone I am always the first one to be awake but that is just a rumor) and if the weather is ok I will get on my bike at 10 am. From there on, it is my training plan that dictates the rest of my day. If for a reason or another (appointment, bad weather) I am not able to leave for training at 10 I get a little bit annoyed. It just feels like I have to run behind schedule the whole day. During your break you shouldn’t have any schedule. I know not putting alarms is a luxury professional athletes have and I promise I don’t abuse of it out of respect of everyone else, but during my break I feel like I deserved staying in bed a little bit longer and not having to stress about being on my bike on time. Just let yourself float through the day.
- Watch Giro Rosa and the Tour de France
Finally this time of the year is actually perfect to turn yourself into a lazy couch potato, probably the most efficient way to recover from anything. Because even if I might not be racing Giro Rosa, I still follow the race and especially my teammates. We have a strong team aligned so I am really curious about how they will race. The good thing this year is that I will be able to see some more race coverage, as Voxwomen will provide a one hour highlight show everyday. If you add this to an afternoon watching the Tour de France, my afternoons will be super busy.
Unfortunately this break only lasts one week, so before I can apply all these tips and tricks myself, I will be back to business as usual and sitting in the car driving to the BENE Tour will come way too early. But because it does I will enjoy the few days off even more.