We are reaching now a period of the year when many athletes take an annual rest after their long racing season.
But a question subsist, do an annual rest or a significant decrease in your workouts for several weeks, can cause a significant drop in your physical qualities hardly won throughout the year?
The scientific studies on ‘detraining’ arrive at three conclusions.
1- For athletes in overtraining, complete rest for three to four weeks will improve performance. This study, performed by the British Olympic Medical Center, were conducted among twelve Olympians in overtraining, they have seen a significant improvement in VO2 max after complete rest for 3 to 5 weeks.
2- When you reduce your cardio workout without completely interrupting, little physical ability is lost if the rest is up to one month. These are the conclusions of a study by the University of Maastricht, Netherlands. They asked a group of twelve high performance cyclists to restrict their training (volume reduction by half ) for three weeks. The laboratory tests that followed this period showed that there was no significant decrease in their performance.
3- There will likely be a reduction of your physical abilities if you hibernate too long. According to Inigo Mujika, a Basque researcher recognized for his research on overtraining, for athletes who are not experiencing overtraining, an interruption in training that would last more than four weeks would have significantly reduced the effect of physical parameters (VO2max, PAM , endurance).
In short, the more you have ” pushed ” the machine during the year and you’re exhausted late in the season, the more you’ve got to observe a complete break of a few weeks. If you are not too tired of your season, you should still reduce your training volume of about three weeks.
The benefits of a full or partial annual rest are:
-The Reduction of risk of injury or wear overtraining
-The Opportunity to make time to take care and heal the sores accumulated during the year.
-A Renewed energy and motivation to start again next season.

Have a Good race!

Bernard Audet
JOGX co-owner and running coach Level 2