At a first thought, it sounds reasonable. Most of us, when we hear the word "recovery", we think immediately about resting our bodies, not working out much, lying on the couch or socializing, eating lots and gathering energy for the next training phase. Although resting muscles and joints is paramount for the hard training athlete - especially the long distance athlete - resting the brain and the neurological canals that feed body and soul is far more critical for a healthy, new season.
I have never actually experienced the neurological post-season fatigue as much as this past season. 2017 was a truly great season for me: I built up the volume right, I had no major injuries and setbacks and I had a three month transition (break) between jobs that I utilized to max out my training and recovery. I bettered my race time at the same distance by a whole 1 hour and 10 min compared to last years results (despite the fact that I got sick on my tapering week and I faced serious nutritional problems on race day). That was all truly great. And to do so at the World Championships was amazing!
What I was not prepared though was the time after the end of my season. I had a full 45 weeks of training and racing (including some lighter volume weeks) building up for one, single race. After the mission was accomplished, I took a typical two-week off training to reset and then I thought I would be ready to start swimming, biking and running lightly (something like 3 times a week) to ease into a new plan and a new season. Indeed, I started doing that but my brain was fried. The two months that followed the end of my goal race included very little working out without much excitement. I really thought that maybe I was over, maybe I would just continue working out for the rest of my life just to stay fit.
It took me a full three months to get my brain reset and start feeling hungry for racing again.
I was astonished.
The mental fatigue should never be underestimated and my advice to you, especially if you are a long-distance athlete that builds up significant volume and focuses on one or two races a year: take your time after the end of a season! Workout as you feel like it, do not get depressed or do not over-think about what's going on in your brain. It will come around. You will feel the hunger again.
Let's now focus on the months ahead, stay healthy, happy and positive.
2018 bring it on!