“Your next practice is only as good as your last recovery” – Coach Al
I bet you’re wondering what the “this” is, that I was referring to in the title, am I right?
And the answer is….
Well…it’s….nothing. The thing you need to do more of to improve? Nothing.
Ok, ok. Before you close this up and bail out on me here, wondering what in the hell that was about, let me explain. Hang in here with me…
One of the things we seem to fall victim to in our modern life is something many of us know as the ole “rat race.” I often see it in the athletes I work with. I also see it a lot when I’m observing what others are doing in their training. We’re all so damn busy. We’ve got a thousand things to get to on a daily basis and the day’s only 24 hours long. Life is complicated, right?
To put it another way, hard-charging goal-oriented athletes don’t have enough hours in the day, and that means there’s no TIME to rest. Or to stop and slow down. Or to…. God forbid, DO NOTHING. 🙂
But I swear to you…
- If you’re not getting adequate rest and recovery between quality sessions…
- If you’re addicted to that (often euphoric) exhausted feeling that leaves you feeling like you’ve accomplished a lot, even though you’ve just been moving around a lot and getting tired in the process…
- If you feel like you always need to be moving, or else you’ll “lose” your edge…
- If you are worried that if you actually take a day or two OFF from training (a real day off, not an “easy” spin, or yoga class, or an hour of stretching, or an “easy” jog), you’ll lose all of that hard earned fitness…
…If ANY of these apply to you (be honest now, come on), the chances are you AREN’T going to be ready for your most important training sessions coming up, and will inevitably plateau in your fitness, or worse, end up injured. And this is doubly or triply true if you’re a Masters athlete (over 40), or you have a full-time job or family. A million times true. (It’s a known fact that Masters athletes simply do NOT recover as fast as they did when they were younger).
Benefiting from forced, built-in rest…
Something I’ve often noticed: The folks that I coach who are, because of their work, forced to take blocks of time off from training, very often get better, faster.
For example, I coached an Orthodontist, who because of his clinic schedule, would have to use a block training approach. I’d write him a very focused series of training sessions for 2 or 3 or 4 days straight (when clinic hours were minimal or nonexistent), and then he’d follow that with as many days completely off from any structured work.
Similarly with a NYC fireman I used to coach.
These athletes got better. Faster. And I believe their “forced” rest from training on a regular basis may have contributed to their continual improvement.
Rest more. Recover better. Consistency improves when you better balance rest with work.
- Most of us never get enough sleep.
- Most of us spend too much time multi-tasking, and that includes when we are “supposed” to be focusing on recovery.
- Recovery is a highly individualized thing because we each have our own unique level of life stress, which compounds the issues and makes it all the more complex!
“Your next practice is only as good as your last recovery,” is a good phrase to keep in the back of your mind. Like all things, there is an appropriate balance of stress and rest.
Virtually every athlete who also works a job, be it at home or out in the workplace, should be taking at least 1 day per week as a total rest day. That’s really important for all, across the board. IMO.
What I often find is that we’re SO BUSY and stressed these days, when that rest day actually and finally comes, we often DON’T use it to rest! We get stressed, we plan for what is to come, we “run around” doing things to catch up, etc., etc…
Yes, we’re all busy. Yes, we need to plan ahead. And yes, that rest day is often the best time to get a lot of other things done.
However, the truth of the matter is, we’re all a little addicted to that exhausted feeling. Trust me, IF YOU DON’T get that rest on that day that you should, then you might show up to the first day of training for the week, no more ready to progress than you were or would have been, had the rest day NOT been there in the first place and programmed for you.
Sleep in a little.
Get off of your feet a bit more.
Take a nap, even 15 minutes could be a major bonus.
Spend 10 or 15 extra minutes on some light stretching.
Get to bed a little earlier than normal.
RECOVER, and rest. Take a step back. Take some time for yourself. Be ready to progress.
Get out of the rat-race mentality and start consciously resisting the feeling that you always have to be “doing something.” If you can, you might actually feel better, improve faster, and end up going faster on the racecourse. And have more fun doing it!
To your success, Al