Coaching, Training, Camps.

The Transition Period
Coach Sarah Portella

For some of us triathletes, the end of May means that many of us have raced our first big events of the season. We have trained for months building up to this event and suddenly it is over, and memories are all that remain. The Training Peaks schedule looks so barren and the words Transition Week appear in the notes. Panic ensues and the urge to throw that week out of the cycle is high. Why rest now that fitness is at a peak?

As an athlete I struggle with the same feelings post-race knowing it’s time to rest. As a coach I know this is good for my body and my mind. So why is a transition week so important?

First, I’ll define a Transition Week as both a break from structured training and a week of extra rest. Some coaches may not put workouts in their athletes’ schedules at all while others may include workouts that are super easy (think zone 1 recovery training).

The Mental Break– A break mid-way through the season, or after a big race is important for sanity! For months athletes’ lives are consumed with hours of training, work, family, etc. To keep up the high demand of stress involved with training for triathlon and balancing that with other obligations a rest, brief though it may be, can help clear the mind and prepare for the next major training block.

The Physical Break– Even if you think you don’t need the rest, you do! Athletes put loads of stress on their bodies every single day, month after month. Sometimes without an actual day of inactivity. A transition week allows muscles to heal (small tears in the muscles happens in training and racing) because training and racing is hard work and stress on the body. Fatigue leaves the body and now it is ready to be stressed again, and more fitness can be gained too!

The Fear Factor– A lot of athletes are afraid they will lose fitness if they rest and worry about getting it back. The bad news is that yes, you will lose a little fitness. The good news is that it is okay…and it is actually better. It is unrealistic to hold super high levels of fitness all year round. If you can, you are either not reaching your highest fitness levels possible, or you run the risk of over-training. And that is bad news. Over-training can lead to injury, loss of fitness and long-term a loss in motivation to train for the sport you love.

The Remedy– Take a deep breath! Understand that in the grand scheme of things one (or two) weeks of decreased training or complete rest is not going to hurt you. Instead focus on the positives that this time will reap for you:

  • Physical recovery and rest
  • Mental recharge
  • Repaired muscle
  • Extra time to spend with family and friends
  • A chance to miss training

So, take a break. Enjoy life. And then get back to training!

If you would like more information about working with Coach Sarah Portella, she can be reached at