Season break – Interview with Melanie Maurer

Winner at Powerman Greece and Powerman Tramelan, seven victories at nine starts at races of the Swiss Duathlon Serie, Vice-European-Champion Middle Distance, Vice-World-Champion Long Distance, Winner Schaffhauser Triathlon, 3rd place Swissalpine Davos K43 and double Swiss Champion Duathlon 2019 (short and medium distance). Melanie Maurer – athlete. The top athlete primarily finances these competition participations and her livelihood with her 40% job as a sports therapist. Primarily out of passion and thanks to the great demand, but also honestly for further financial income, Melanie Maurer professionalized her coaching offer at the beginning of the year. Due to the fact that this started very successful and the requests continue to arrive diligently, she will soon expand this further. Who better to talk to about the sense and purpose of a season break? We met Melanie Maurer – answers and thoughts from the perspective of the top athlete, trainer, sports scientist, sports therapist, employee, private individual, …

Melanie, your last week of work is due before you go on holiday for two weeks. This is the perfect opportunity to talk to you about the season break.

In the course of the season, concentration and focus on the sporting goals dominate. What are your personal physical signs that a season break is called for?

There’re always several signs for me there. First of all, I notice moments directly in front of severe units, in which the motivation is no longer 150, but rather about 90%. 😉 Then it can take a minute or two longer until I have tied my running shoes and am ready to suffer in an interval training. Towards the end of this season, which was extremely long for me this year, I noticed in the evaluation of my training data that my maximum heart rate was somewhat lower than at the beginning of the season – also a clear sign that the body will gratefully accept a training and competition break. It’s really worth listening to your own body and respecting the signals.

In your professional activity, what “ailments” do athletes come by with, which show you that the stress-recovery ratio may not have been right?

That’s very different. I’m now chatting out of the sewing box, anonymously of course 😉

I have already experienced that someone came to me with the intention to be coached by me. When he then told me that he has a 100% job, 2 children and a training plan that can hold 20h and more, I was very astonished. Trainings until 23:00 in the evening, only to get up again at 4:30 for the next session, which must be in his pocket before work, were the order of the day for him. He only knew rest days from hearsay and that a training plan should be periodized in the best case and that you should train sometimes more, sometimes less, he simply did not know. He came to me with the statement that his training “could probably be optimized” and that he would have trouble reconciling everything. Since then he has been training at most two thirds of his previous level and is much faster and also more satisfied with his overall life situation, because he now has more time for his family.

General signs for too much training or even an overtraining can be a stagnating or even declining performance, a slow regeneration, a high susceptibility to infections, sleep disturbances and constant tiredness, but also mood swings up to depression. If such signs occur, it is high time to give your body the necessary rest.

One of many successes in the 2019 season.

Your work as a sports therapist and trainer during the season is in addition to physical exertion. What does your workload look like during your sports season break?

In my season break I work full time and sometimes a little more. 😉 On the one hand I have time to “make money”, on the other hand it’s also good to get out of this “sports world” for a while and to see that a decelerated life, in which for a certain time not everything is running at top speed, can also be great.

So, towards the end of the season, do you feel the need to give your head the opportunity to relax on a few days off?

Yes! I find it liberating when I discover new things on a day off; when I can read a book or be in nature, have plenty of time for my friends, or just spend an evening in front of the TV.

Melanie Maurer (centre) is also a professional trainer with Here with two of her extremely satisfied athletes.

How can you tell from your athletes, who you successfully care for with, that a break is necessary?

For me, the permanent exchange between my athletes and myself is of central importance here. It is important for me to know when an athlete is tired, has a cold or has more to do at work. Sometimes it simply makes more sense to do without training in order to give your body the necessary rest.

I also ask some athletes about their resting pulse and look at the maximum pulse during interval training in the training evaluation. If the resting pulse is higher than usual and/or the maximum pulse falls, caution is advised and a break is often the best solution to protect an athlete from worse effects.

As a coach and athlete, what do you pay attention to when it comes to the concrete design of the season break?

It is important to me that the athletes really relieve the body completely for the time being. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t move anymore; a moderate hike, walk or otherwise enjoy nature is completely okay. But the topic of the season break must be treated very individually, because not everyone can do the same thing with themselves 😉

If it were up to me, running in the first two weeks of the season break would be a no-go, because I think that especially the passive structures of the body (tendons, ligaments, bones, joints) should recover in this time, and in my opinion this works best without the blows that affect the body during running. In the end, however, this remains an urgent recommendation on my part – not everyone wants to take a two-week running break. In a second phase, the athlete can then decide for himself what he/she wants, as long as the training is not too intensive. After that, planned trainings follow again, but the first part of the build-up phase is also approached loosely, so that the athletes can get used to the load again.

From your point of view, what can an athlete do already during the season in order not to have to save himself completely exhausted into the season break?

Use rest days that are not used for running, swimming or cycling. And listen to your own body and respect its signs. This also includes being able to be honest with oneself. And maybe your partner or training colleague is not wrong if he mentions in passing that you should perhaps shift down a gear 😉

Melanie, we thank you very much for taking your time and wish you a nice and relaxing holiday! They are well deserved for sure!