Anthony Shippard is an elite cyclist and Pure Edge Ambassador. Anthony is just returning to normal programming with his fitness training after having a bit of time off. We asked Anthony to share his tips with us about how to make it a bit easier to return to training, whatever level you might be at or sport you may be participating in. Here’s what he has to say..
All athletes, at all levels, take a bit of a break from their training during the course of a year. It might be time off completely, or it might be a reduced load, or some combination of the both. No matter how ‘good’ you try to be, it wouldn’t be a break if you didn’t let go a little bit but with that euphoric feeling of letting go comes the fear of ‘getting back into it’.
I have just undergone that excruciating first week back and thought I’d share with you some tips to make it a bit easier – on both the mind and the body.
The first thing I always remind myself is that fitness comes first, weight loss second. Once you are properly fit enough to train hard again, the weight will take care of itself to a large extent. So for the first month, I do everything I can to make sure I train at all the times I had planned to. One consistent month is all that is needed to get things on track for a great season. And what helps build a consistent month? A consistent week. Just putting the sessions together, back to back.
Of course, there is one eye on performance during this time, but too much of a focus on Power, or Speed will lead to the demotivational realisation that you are not as fit as you were – despite you knowing that to be a fact, it still breaks your heart! Performance can play second fiddle to just fitness improvement, and efficiency gains, and basically getting your muscles back into the swing of things.
This is where nutrition plays such an important role. That old phrase ‘the diet starts on Monday’ – to put things off until a new week or month – let it go. Just start to make small improvements in what you are eating and drinking. The change in your diet doesn’t need to be wholesale overnight. Just start to reform the good habits, and drop a couple of the bad ones. Bit by bit. This isn’t a black and white scenario – none of us are professional athletes, so there will always be times when you let it go a bit. That’s great! You should try not to see yourself as either ‘In training’ (so deadly serious) or ‘On a break’ (letting it all go). It’s a balance. Too often in dieting and nutrition the approaches are 100% extreme or nothing. Eg. Gluten free, Dairy Free, Atkins etc. Have you ever wondered whether this not just a little bit restrictive? How about less dairy, but not total elimination. And Atkins – well, good luck on zero carbs.
I always imagine a slide rule. At the left end is ‘Completely Unathletic / Unhealthy’, at the right end is ‘Race Weight / Training’. After a break, the slider will be a fair bit closer to the left hand side than the right. Day by day, I nudge the slider a bit to the right. To be honest, the far right is only achieved once or twice a year – work, life etc – they all get in the way. But it’s about keeping the slider moving in the right direction, despite the set-backs and temptations that you will certainly succumb to! A positive step can be made at any point (even halfway through a cheese and bacon croissant!) – and that will change the direction of the slider.
Get your training done first, make sure you are recovering, ensure your nutrient needs are being met. Get fit. Then you can start to worry about what you might eliminate to get rid of that final 3kg (or whatever it may be) for a short period of time.