July 20, 2017

The Art of Rest And Recovery

To be the best endurance athlete you can be, you have to effectively manage all aspects of training and this includes recovery time. Recovery time is the process that will restore your bodies’ energy levels and repair the damage that you inflicted in your workout. The three components of adequate recovery are nutrition, rest and active recovery.

Daily nutrition habits dictate the health status of your body, plus the amount of training you can withstand and adapt to. What you eat and drink every day has a direct impact on your athletic potential. If you eat poorly on a daily basis, your athletic potential will be low. You can wear yourself out with bad nutrition even faster than with exercise.

Maintaining daily optimal health through a nutritious diet will do more to speed your recovery from workouts than any other factor. You should try to get a nutritious meal immediately following your workout; the best time to restore your glycogen levels is in the first 20 minuets after a workout. After a hard workout your immune system is also more vulnerable so getting a healthy dose of antioxidants can really be beneficial for a fast recovery.

Some helpful rules of thumb to follow when planning a post-workout meal:
1. Eliminate all processed foods. Get rid of the junk. Your calories should come from lean meats, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.
2. Avoid eating and drinking empty calories. Make sure everything you put in your mouth has a high nutrient density.
3. Tracking your calories can also help ensure that you are getting an adequate amount to sustain your workouts. Fatigue can lessen your appetite and a calorie deficit can lead to injury and illness. This is also a main cause of over training.
4. Taking a multi-vitamin, iron and calcium supplement as well as antioxidants such as vitamins E and C can also help.

Rest after a workout is key, getting the proper rest both physically and mentally can make all the difference come race day. Rest after training allows for the neurological system to process and integrate any new stimulus. Rest also stimulates the production of human growth hormone, which is vital for the building of new muscle and the restoration of any damage.

1. Try to get eight hours of sleep per night.
2. Get into a routine of the same bedtime and wake time. Go to bed and rise at the same time every day of the week, even on the weekends.
3. If you have the time, take a 45-minute nap in the afternoon or after your workout.
4. A powerful tool can also be meditation or visualization; studies have shown that mentally rehearsing actions (such as a transition) can greatly improve performance.
5. Massage can also be a great tool and promote relaxation. It can also aid in good blood circulation.

Active recovery consists of very easy workouts and should be short and enjoyable. You do not want this time to be stressful mentally or physically.

1. These should be short and simple, no more than 20-40 minutes.
2. Include family and friends, make these workouts fun.
3. Be gentle on your body and enjoy the aspect of what your body can do instead of pushing as hard as you do in your regular workouts.
Through nutrition, rest and active recovery you can balance the elements of the adaptation process; stress, recovery, growth. With the balancing of the recovery process you will be preparing your mind and body to reach and build the next and higher level of fitness preparing you for your next great performance.

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