Many people think that recovery in training just means to sleep or take a day off. Yes, that’s part of the equation but there’s much more to it. Recovery essentially prepares your body to withstand and absorb whatever is to come next in training. Without a proper work/rest ratio there is not improvement, as simple as that.
We all know about popular recovery aid methods like massage, protein shakes, compression garments, ice baths, hydration etc.
The truth is, there is very little evidence that supports the use of any of the above mentioned methods is totally effective in recovering muscles and improving subsequent performance. In fact, if you pay close attention you will notice they are ALL marketing hooks. They require to buy a product or service, gotta love consumerism! Most of these, treat “symptoms” of fatigued and therefore could also be linked to “placebo” effects more than anything else. Basically they make you forget about the pain but everything inside remains the same.
Browse the web and you can find 1,000+ articles on recovery like HERE, HERE,HERE & HERE. Therefore I’m not trying to do any rocket science in this article, following are a couple of simple details that may seem obvious but many athletes overlook while trying to recover. I’ve found that these could boost long-term performance by keeping your body at a fresher state.
One of the main problems with athletes is that they decide they need recovery once they are way too deep into fatigue. But, What about including some healthy practices that can prevent us from boarding the overtraining boat? keep reading.
1.Active Recovery . You can (rest) and recover while staying active. The idea is to do some low impact activities or your regular workout at a very low intensity for a shorter than normal duration. With this, we are trying to stimulate circulation to your muscles so they can trigger all their self-healing biological processes and avoid the stiffness that comes from sudden inactivity. Yoga, swimming and riding are all great active recovery ideas
2.Stick the easy days. Easy means easy! it should feel easy! Make it a priority to nail the programmed easy days. I feel this is a golden rule in endurance training or at least it is for me. On paper, you don’t need to take off days, but that only applies when your regimen is balanced. Notice that a balanced schedule is one that has EASY days placed strategically all over it. Make sure that whenever you get one you USE IT! better to err on the easier side than to push it too far.
3.Sleeping/napping. Sleeping is the holy grail of optimum recovery and napping is like the X-factor. It’s deprivation can cause problems in many areas including, prolonged sub-maximal efforts, psychomotor skills and cognitive performance. Read more about it in a study with elite athletes HERE. Napping offers an alternative to many of us with an unstructured schedule who do not sleep the avg or recommended 6-8hrs. A short 30min rest (power nap) can do wonders for your fatigue levels, alertness and mental focus. I remember my teacher’s internship supervisor use to take 20 minute naps at the lunch table and swear that they were the only reason while she could keep going. They work.
4.Relaxation. Stress is a performance killer, especially because it disables your ability to recover after workouts and absorb the stimulus. Reducing the pressure you put on yourself will do wonders for your body. Relax by focusing on the fun aspects of training or your family . Relax by going slower or easier.Forget about your training, just for a minute. Your life shouldnt revolve around it if you do not own a PRO card. Understand that this is a hobby, a lifestyle that makes you fit and happy.
5.Workout spacing. Working out everyday at the same time may be a good idea. It ensures that you’re getting enough time in between sessions for your body to absorb, rest and prepare for what’s next. Also if training twice a day for different sports, put some thinking into the order of your workouts. It’s usually a good idea to perform the most difficult session first in the day. Lets say you have a swim and run due that day, perform the run first thing in the morning and swim later. You want to make sure you’re fully rested for the main session or the one that has the most quality elements.
6.Days off. You already know consistency is key but, sometimes a day off is your best friend. It’s not because your body needs it, it’s your mind who’s demanding a break. Letting go for a day or two will guaranteed you’re fresh for your next assignment both physically and mentally. Use this time to revisit your goals, to visualize your success and reflect on your journey. It’s just one day, NO PASA NADA!
If you feel tired or weak please listen to your body. Many things can go wrong from there if you ignore the signals, Overuse injuries, sickness and that big-deep hole known as overtraining. Consider adopting some of the suggested measures and enjoy your training.