The Power of Rest and Recovery

Posted on 09 September 2015

As with many athletes, the focus is always balancing high volumes of training with adequate sleep and recovery.  Which of the following four main ingredients to building your training program is the one so often overlooked?

  1. Endurance training,
  2. Adequate nutrition (pre and post workouts)
  3. Functional/strength training
  4. Rest and recovery

Answer is RECOVERY

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When you add all of life stressors such as social obligations, family, work, relationships, time management, travel schedules, financial planning then stack on all the training time it’s absolutely imperative to have a Recovery plan in your life and training plan.

We all hear the stories of athletes that keep on pushing and pushing with higher volumes and less sleep and recovery that have complete melt downs in life and the key target races. For many athletes it’s necessary to take a mental or emotional break from the respective sport.

 

As athletes we are all stubborn and with age we can guarantee the following:

  1. Slower recovery process
  2. Loss of strength and flexibility – kind of amazing that at age 40 those Achilles tendons always seem tight!
  3. Lose some of the maximum Vo2 capacity

However one thing we all can do with age is to retain and increase overall endurance. Just like the tortoise and the hare! We can always go longer.

With all of my athletes I personally coach, we work as a partnership and I recommend that if you have a coach make sure you claim ownership of your plan.   As athlete, find the performance approach that works for you. Adhere to a balance of opinions and ideas specifically related to rest and recovery.

My current athletes follow multiple weeks of increased workload (depending on the specific time of the season) with significant recovery weeks – not just-active recovery but real recovery. Too many times, I hear of athletes who view their coach to just send them the “best” training plans only to fail because of various factors and many are related to training way too much as they are over trained and overstressed.

It is always better to be a bit undertrained and fresh than going into an event than overstrained. Again and again I hear of age group athletes that are training for an ultra event that are training in excess of 35 hours a week while holding down a full time job, family responsibilities and sleeping on average of 5.5 -6 hours a night.    This is a path to burnout and extreme fatigue that will have cross over effects to every aspect of life.

My advice is to follow a discipline in your training of a real recovery week after 4 weeks of increased mileage and intensity. Also, monitor your sleep patterns and focus on 7-8 hours of good sleep a night. I know it’s common sense, but try adding and monitoring a sleep goal in your training plan and you will see the beneficial results (napping of course if possible). Happy recovery, and as always please let me know your thoughts and ideas.

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