Recovery & Rest--An Important Part of Training
Saturday, March 01, 2014
My 2014 training strategy is made up of five parts: nutrition, physical fitness and sport-specific skills, mental toughness, recovery, and rest. I'll write about the first three parts some other time, but for today I want to write about recovery and rest because, frankly, I need to remind myself that these things are important, especially rest.
For me, "recovery" refers to my post-workout routine and consists of cooling-down, stretching, massaging my muscles, refueling, and at times active recovery like a slow walk or easy spin on the bike (sometimes mellow activity helps the body recover more than no activity). For me "rest" refers to napping, especially on intense exercise days, my one weekly day of rest (both from work and exercise), and sleep.
I am pretty consistent when it comes to recovery. I always cool down after medium to intense workouts, I almost always stretch after cardio and strength training, I massage my muscles (especially my legs) after medium to intense jogs or bike rides, I try to be as wise as I can about what I drink and eat in the 30-120 minutes after I exercise, and I actively recover from exercise when that's advisable and possible. There is always growing to do, and I so I think about these things on a weekly basis, but at this point any improvements are just a trimming of the sails, if you will.
Where I need work is on the area of rest. Napping on intense exercise days is very good for the body. I'm neither a doctor nor a fitness expert, but from what I understand, certain properties are released in the body on such days which help the body heal and give it energy and ability for the next work out. In fact, many pro-cyclists put in two workouts per training day with a nap in between because, over time, this produces better results than one or two workouts without sleep. I hate napping, but I need to learn to love it!
When it comes to Mondays, my rest days, I do a good job there. I almost completely unplug, I stay away from e-mail and the phone, and I physically rest as much as possible. No need for improvement here.
Where I need the most improvement is in the area of sleep, and mostly how I fall asleep. I am a pastor of a church, and so I often have a lot on my mind regarding things I'm learning and teaching, and more so, people issues that I'm dealing with on any given day. I'm a morning person who wakes up at full speed, but by the time night rolls around I'm out of it and simply don't want to think about anything or anyone, or even talk.
And herein lies the problem: I have a very hard time turning my mind off, so every night I watch some kind of show on the computer which helps me take my mind off the day and fall asleep. I usually crash out within 15 minutes or so, and I tend to sleep well, but recently I've grown concerned that falling asleep in this way doesn't allow my mind to relax and may therefore negatively impact the quality of my sleep.
Last night I crashed out watching a stage from the Tour de France 2013. At some point, while I was 2/3 asleep, I reached over and closed my lap top without shutting down the web browser, so in the middle of the night my computer randomly turned on and the noise from the race woke me up in a rather jarring way. It took a while to get back to sleep, and I feel as though it impacted the quality of my sleep for the rest of the night.
So I need to work on this. I'm not excited to do so because I like falling asleep this way, but it's obvious to me that something's got to give here, so...
Any ideas? I'd love to hear your feedback, and I hope you have a great day!