A few weeks ago I told you about my sore shins back in January, and how frustrated I was that I couldn’t train.Eventually I got back to jumping, and it was pretty good.The best bit was some 60m sprints In which I ran a whopping 0.3s faster than my best last year. In 60m, this is significant.

It got me thinking about what had generated this leap.

Now, without a doubt I’m stronger and faster and lighter than last year. But prior to this there were no major indications that I was improving. Until I had an easy week, So what happened? Effectively I had a ‘de-load’ week. A week where I was still active, still training but the impact of this training was probably 60% of a normal week. So why is de-loading important?

  1. When you have an easy week, your body has time to rest and recover, rebuild and regenerate. I don’t tend to programme them in to my schedule, because life generally dictates when I need to miss training. Like Christmas, poorly children, school holidays. However, missing training because of any of these issues is not exactly “recovery”. Christmas and holidays tend to be more hectic than normal life. Poorly children is definitely more stressful. So missing training is not equal to a De-load Week. Similarly lying on a deck chair for 10 days is not a de-load week. You come back from this sluggish, de-conditioned and weaker than you left.
  2. Fresh legs. When you are deep into a training schedule, your body is fatigued; you’re training on tired legs. Anyone who has done an evening session followed by a morning session can tell you this. It takes time for the training effect to leave your body, and if you haven’t had a de-load week, you probably don’t recognise the difference anymore.So what makes up a de-load week? Typically I’d say a week, which is 60-70% of your normal week. So if you’re doing 4 Melita sessions. Knock it down to 3 and add a swim or yoga instead. Or do 2 sets of each exercise in the gym instead of your usual 3. Or drop your long run to half the usual time. Do it once every 3-5 weeks depending on how often you train in the week.

But note, de-loading will only work if you are consistent and regular in your training in the run up to this week! You need to load up before you can de-load!