This article was written by Morgan Johnson and appears in the USAT Multisport Lab.
Recovery may be the most common catch-phrase in the endurance sports industry today. But what does recovery actually mean? Recovery is the most basic principle of effective endurance training. This principle is formally termed the "supercompensation cycle", and it teaches us that increased fitness occurs after stress is applied to the body (exercise), and the body properly recovers from the incurred fatigue. The body supercompensates for the stress applied; essentially "fitness occurs during recovery."
This principle gives us the cardinal rule for planning effective endurance training. Never plan for more than you can recover from. The training you do is only as good as the recovery you counter it with. Pros practice 7 or 8 hours a day and they have the rest of the day to recover. We go for a five-hour bike ride to 10 hours at the office followed by family dinner. If you think those 10 hours at the office count for recovery time, just think how you feel after a long day at work.
Our body lets us know whent to slow down (recover) with signs that are hard to ignore. The most common signs are: inability to get heart rate up, decreased power or speed as it relates to heart rate, excessive sleeping, abnormally increased or decreased appetite, depressed immune system, excessively sore or "tight" muscles. Unfortunately, many people do not listen to their body and try to "push through" it. In too many cases this reaction leads to injury, mental burnout, or often sickness.
The following may serve as a helpful guideline. Keep track of your workouts. When your body hits the "recovery" mark, cut back on your workout by 40% for at least a week. Once your symptoms clear, start building again to your previous level and then increase that level by 10%. When recovery symptoms appear, cut back and repeat the process. Listen to your body and realize often times less is more!
This entire article can be found on the USAT website
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