A lot of endurance athletes want to train as often as they can so that they can get as fit as they can, but we all know that STRESS + REST = GROWTH. That REST part of the equation is the toughest part for some athletes because they just want to train all the time.
Let’s look at that equation for a second. The STRESS part is easy, when you put stress on your muscles by riding and training, you are breaking down the muscles with micro-tears, and the body needs time to repair.
The REST part is simply removing all STRESS so that the body can focus on the rebuilding process. Limit all work the body has to do so that it can focus on the rebuilding process.
Here are some tips to maximize REST and RECOVERY as a lifestyle so that dedicating an entire day to it might be unnecessary.
De-Stress Your Mind
Today everything is fast-paced and everyone is in a hurry. We’re sitting in rush-hour traffic and yelling at the other drivers so that we can get to work and rush to meet a deadline so the boss doesn’t yell at us. Then we get home and argue with our kids and spouses. Life is too stressful and this has an affect on us. It takes away from our recovery. It causes us to be in a constant fight or flight situation that prevents the full relaxation we are looking for.
I’m not going to tell you how to fix all of these things, that’s for each of us to figure out for ourselves. Each of us has a unique situation that we need to handle in our own way. The stress of our modern high-pressure world is taking away from our recovery, and we need to tune that down a little at a time.
De-stress completely before bed. Eliminate distractions. Try to stay calm in the hour leading up to bed time. Go to bed earlier, get 9 hours of sleep if possible.
Eat and drink things that have a low impact on your digestive system. When you’re in deep recovery, you don’t want to eat a Thanksgiving dinner and force your entire body to focus on digesting a big meal, right? Do the opposite. Eat small meals. Have a protein smoothie. Chop up the food so that it’s simple to digest.
Athletes need energy and protein to recover. Eat foods high in nutrients. Avoid processed foods. Limit alcohol. Alcohol stresses the body. The liver has to stop what it is doing so that it can filter the alcohol from the blood. Alcohol can de-hydrate the body. Drink Green Tea instead.
Read this book: Thrive, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Plant-Based Whole Foods Way to Staying Healthy for Life by Brendan Brazier. It’s been a game changer for me on this subject.
Spending the entire day on the sofa is not possible for a lot of people, or even ideal. We need to keep the blood flowing so that the body can get those toxins out.
Go for a walk or a hike, do some light yoga, do some stretching, go for a swim, go for an easy bike ride with the family. The idea is to be active without stressing your aerobic system or your muscles.
Try a massage. Relaxation massages are good to just de-stress from everything and relax. Sports massages are another option for people with stubborn muscles or injuries that won’t seem to go away.
You can try self massage. Here’s a good article for that: http://www.coach-hughes.com/resources/massage.html
There are apps that can help with this. I used Headspace for a month, and I learned some meditation techniques that I use from time to time. Just taking some time out of the day to focus on yourself might be a big step toward relaxation for a lot of people. Being mindful of the body and listening to what it’s saying can help us know what it needs from us. Meditation helps to be more in-tune with the body.
There are a lot of devices that want people to spend a lot of money for recovery. There’s recovery sleepwear, recovery leg compression sleeves, and other things that cost a lot and promise recovery. Some of them may work great, but the cheap and free things on this list will work better. Humans have been around for a long time without technology, and we respond best to the simple things. Don’t depend on the gadgets, but if you want to use them to help, then that’s great.
One device that everyone seems to agree works is the foam roller. It’s a good way to get a deep tissue massage for cheap.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Lower the stress in your life, meditate, foam roll your sore muscles, eat right and drink a smoothie.
Do you have to do all of these everyday? No, do what works for you. Think about recovery every day. Build recovery into your daily routine, and maybe you can workout more and get stronger. Always listen to your body and when it’s feeling run-down, maybe sometimes you will need to take a whole day off from workouts!