One question I get all the time from my committed and excited athletes, "should I take a break at the end of the season?"
The answer is yes for a few reasons.
- Your mental health is important. Be excited to get back into training, because the season is long and we need to remain consistent all year.
- Your body needs a break. All season pounding meters when you are tired, and sleepless at 5 am practices. Give it some rest and it will surprise you how fast it bounces back, especially those nagging injuries.
- Technique improvements. We often fall into back habits during the season, with a focus on meters and speed rather than the process. So making technique changes becomes harder and harder as the season progresses as bad habits are cemented. Have a clear focus early in the season and carry it through the entire season. Get a lesson with video feedback early on to help you create long lasting technique changes.
I think the optimal amount of time for a break differs between athletes. But on the order of a month out of the water is good. I also like to schedule in week long breaks throughout the season. One around Christmas and another near Easter.
Taking a break from the water doesn't mean you cannot work on your fitness, flexibility or strength. Do some yoga classes, go for a hike with friends/family and enjoy your down time just don't spend a month on the couch!