November 1, 2017

Top athletes feel the strain and purpose of holidays


By: Kristiina Mäkelä, Finland’s 23-year old Olympic triple jumper athlete

Photo: Sami Vaskola

Everyone likes fun holidays. Getting out of routines makes you feel good and relaxed. Cheat meals are acceptable and probably the main source of nutrition. You can do whatever you want. It sounds  lovely doesn’t it, but as I ended my season, I have come across a few problems being a top athlete on holiday.

After the first week, I felt terrible. My muscles were stiff and my body felt like it was blocked.

I felt heavy and I didn’t want to eat anything that was the slightest bit unhealthy. I craved for salads and fresh fruit. Just two weeks before, I was convinced that I would be able to consume a chocolate mountain or a pile of junk food.

This is only time of the year that I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and I found myself choosing the healthy options!

I only have to wait until I get back into training when consumption gets high again – I will be so mad at myself for craving for that energy load. Why can’t I enjoy that feeling of being satisfied even once?

Perhaps it is what sport does or every other high-performance activity results in.

When you do your job well and enjoy it, by being able to put all your effort into it, it simply requires certain rules. and those rules are the keys to a balanced life.

On holiday, the most important thing is to rest the mind. Routines are important because they make life easier. Trying to trash the routines takes a lot of energy.

After one week on a holiday, I had return to a few routines because I noticed that breaking routines took too much energy and I wasn’t happy.

My life is “guilt regulated” – I think that makes it easier for me. I feel more satisfied when working for a bigger purpose. After two weeks of vacation I had this urge to do something useful.

I know the importance of longer rest periods – so by not doing physical work, I’m doing something  good for my career. However, feeling like doing something more, is a good sign. It means that stress has gone, my brain is relaxed, and wants to start working again. The main purpose of a vacation is accomplished and there is still a lot of time left on my vacation.

My next step is to recover my best physical condition – get back in shape to feel good for getting back to work. I want to prepare myself to start training. Too often holidays end so that you don’t have slightest motivation to start work again. That can mean two things. First you have wrong job, and, second, you didn’t prepare for the job on your vacation. Everyone knows it ends one day so why not make it easier by being prepared.

I love my job, so I’m going to be prepared. I am going to have the strongest motivation to do everything as well as possible including recovery! I just need to start listening to my body a little more carefully towards the end of the vacation and do what is needed to get that soft landing back to basic training.

Kristiina Mäkelä