Emma-Kate chats about the benefits of taking a mid season break.

It’s June, I’ve been racing since March and I’ll likely still be giving it full beans until the end of October. Triathlon is by no means an easy sport; it requires you to give a lot of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally day after day. In order to keep doing this throughout the year, though, at some point you need to take your foot off the gas and just rest. We are human beings, not machines.

This blog is brought to you fresh from my mid-season break after five glorious days of sun-filled beach dwelling in Mexico where my biggest workouts have typically seen me transition from sun lounger to ocean to bar. I have been in heaven. I’ve barely thought about triathlon. I have done some workouts, but all of them have been unstructured sessions that were more about moving the body than hitting intervals or watts. One day I did a cruisey ocean swim, the next a treadmill run, but nothing testing – and certainly nothing that involved much effort.

You might laugh at what I’m about to say next, but it was actually HARD not to keep training. Both my body and mind are used to the structure and routine of following a training programme, so switching off completely took me a couple of days, but once the switch was down I was very much in beach mode. I also shut my laptop lid, powered off my iPhone and completely removed myself from the world. I would strongly suggest doing this from time to time – it’s liberating!

It’s the first time I’ve taken a beach holiday in a long time and I can’t begin to tell you how important it seems to have been. After a lot of travel and racing in the first part of the season, I had begun to feel a little toasted and in need of a break. Since January, I’ve relocated from the UK to the US and from LA, my new home, I have journeyed to San Francisco (twice), Texas, Vancouver, Utah, North Carolina and Kansas. I’ve done five races, four of them 70.3 distance.

Many people have said to me: “What? A holiday? In June?! Aren’t you afraid you’ll lose fitness when you’re clearly in good form?” The answer to that is both yes and no. Yes, it’s hard to let go when I’m having such a great season, but equally I know only too well what it’s like to hit the big races at the tail end of the year with as much mojo as a squashed gnat. In 2011, I competed at 10 races – nine of them 70.3 distance or longer (Abu Dhabi) and those last two races of the year were a huge struggle, both mentally and physically. I don’t want to feel like that again – been there, done that, got the burnt-out body and mind! So when the opportunity arose to fly to Cancun for a mini-break, it did not take me long to grab my sombrero and tequila shot glass and hit LAX.

Matt Dixon, my coach, is a big advocate of the mid-season break and a believer that by letting go now, potentially bigger gains can be made later in the season. One step backwards, two or three forwards, if you like. Now I’m all for that!

I’m now back home in LA feeling mentally and physically refreshed and ready to tackle the back half of the season. Next up for me is Ironman 70.3 Vineman on July 14. Shortly after that I’ll be returning to the UK for a flying visit as it’s my sister’s wedding. Bridesmaid’s duties beckon! I’ll then hop back over the Pond and begin the build to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas on September 8.

The season has been going well and after some testing times in 2012, I feel like I’m in a good place: I have the perfect training set-up here in Southern California, I’ve added two more Ironman 70.3 titles to my resume and have recently signed a new title sponsorship with Anthem Media Group (AMG). Our sponsorship partnership will see me assisting with their employee wellness programme which I’m hugely excited to be involved in. Great times ahead!

Now all you have to do is make sure the sun shines when I’m back in Blighty next month. That’s not too much to ask, is it?!

Emma-Kate Lidbury is a journalist turned professional triathlete with six Ironman 70.3 titles and two top-10 70.3 World Championship finishes to her name. She is sponsored by Anthem Media Group, Morris Owen Accountants and Virtua. To find out more about her visit www.eklidbury.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @eklidbury

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