Implementing recovery into yout training
It’s important to plan your recovery like you would plan your training. Planning your recovery strategies will help you get into the routine of recovering regularly. Recovery isn’t as sexy as training so it’s easy to ignore, but you need to think of it like the yin and yang of training. The yin is your training and the yang is recovery both need to be balanced. If you’re only focusing on the high intensity training your missing a huge gap in your performance, as you can only train as hard as you can recover. By ignoring this fundamental princpal you will end up tired, burnout, over-trained and at a greater risk of injury. Training is stressful which causes breakdown of your tissues (muscles, tendons, liagments, bones), when the tissues repair they heal stronger and more resilient. This is a very simplified explanation of training stress and adaptation. Now the only way those tissues can repair properly is with rest, so think of performance training as 10% physical training and 90% recovery. Your body will recovery by itself with no interventition, however, by adding in specific recovery strategies you can “speed up” the natural healing process in-turn meaning you can training more often. Recovery sessions should be a priority in your training schedule. If you don’t have the time you need to find ways to fit even small pieces into your day. You can tack it on the back of your training sessions or you can do it as a spearate session. Don’t mistake recovery with just resting, recovery should be active to promote blood flow and nutrient delivery to damaged tissues.
Start with the low hanging fruit
The low hanging fruit of recovery are; sleep, stress management, and nutrition. These 3 things are cost effective and really simple to implement.
Sleep: Shoot for eight to nine hours a night, (this maybe more depending on how much and intense your training is). You can track your sleep via an app called Sleep Cycle. The Sleep Cycle accumulates your sleep data and can give you feedback on your quantity and quality of sleep. The app can also track other things that might affect sleep like work, stress, mood etc, which can help you make some adjustments around your sleeping patterns and routines. The main benefit of sleep for performance is that it improves muscle recovery via growth hormone release, which repairs muscles, bones, and helps burn body fat. Good sleep also increases energy use and how you utilizing glucose (carbohydrates) in the body more efficiently and effectively, which is really important when you are training and exercising at a high intensity. Sleep also improves your mood, if your feeling super chipper your going to get a lot more out of your training and be a more pleasant teammate. Putting all this together will help you train harder, for longer and more often.
Managing stress: Stress is enevitable, you can’t avoid but you can manage it better. Stress can come in many different form although, your body reacts to all stress in the same way through cortisol. Cortisol is important for performance as it allows you to focus better while training/playing but too much can be damaging to the body and impede recovery. A simple way to start managing your stress is through mindfulness techniques/meditation. Headspace is a great app that has 10 to 15 minute guided meditations which focus on many areas from stress, anxiety, falling asleep, performance mindset, personal growth, work & productivity, life challenges, sport and many more. You can by simply start by adding it to your morning routine, sit down in silence and listen to a guided meditation.
Nutrition: Nutrition can be as simple as focusing on eating whole unprocessed foods. Make sure your getting enough vegetables (five fist sized servings/day), adequate protein for muscle recovery (1-2 palm sized serves at every meal), carbohydrates for muscle fuel replenishment (1-2 cupped hands) and healthy fats to support your connective tissue and brain (1-2 thumbs). Here’s 21 superfoods that you can start with:
1. Lean red meat (protein)
2. Salmon (protein)
3. Eggs (protein)
4. Plain Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese (protein)
5. Protein supplements (protein)
6. Spinach (vegetables)
7. Tomatoes (vegetables)
8. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)
9. Mixed berries (fruit)
10. Oranges (fruit)
11. Mixed beans (carbs)
12. Quinoa (carbs)
13. Whole oats (carbs)
14. Raw, unsalted mixed nuts (fats)
15. Avocados (fats)
16. Extra virgin olive oil (fats)
17. Fish oil (fats)
18. Flax seeds (fats)
19. Green tea (water)
20. Liquid exercise drinks or essential amino acids (protein)
21. Vital greens (powdered vegetables)
The extra 10%
There are many other recovery strategies but these only make up the 10% of what you should be doing consistently, you need to conquer the big three before you worry about anything else. The extra 10% includes foam rolling, massage, stretching, active recovery (walking/cycling/swimming), ice baths and hydrotherapy. Most of these strategies require you to be active with your recovery and work predominately because you are moving, therefore, promoting blood with nutrietnts to flow to tissues aiding in repair. If you have ticked off all the above strategies then you can also include supplements such as zinc, magnesium, vitamins A/B/C/D and iron. Start with the low cost and highly effective big three – sleep, stress managment and nutrition, these will give you the most of your recovery needs as you master each of these you can add the other 10%.