One of the critical aspects of improving performance over time is managing the balance of rest and recovery with the stresses of training. Too much stress and insufficient recovery is going to lead to stagnation and injury, or whichever comes first. In contrast, too little stress isn’t going to create enough of a stimulus to help you improve. If you’re not managing your training well, you can be assured that you’re not going to make the progress you desire. You need to get the balance right.
Fortunately, most athletes make the same mistake, particularly those that are motivated enough to purchase and read a book like this. They train too much or too hard relative to what they can recover from. The solution then is to design training in a way that allows for sufficient recovery while still ensuring that you feel you are training hard. The more recovered you, the harder you can train.
Good recovery is built on a foundation of sleep, nutrition, and stress management. Exactly what constitutes good sleep, nutrition, and stress management practices are beyond the scope of this book. However, you probably already know the basics of what to do. Ensure you get enough sleep. If you’re always tired, it’s probably not enough. You probably understand which food choices are productive ones, and you need to consistently make those choices. Planning time to unwind and perform relaxing activities, whatever that means to you, is going help you manage stress. More than anything, actually implementing these strategies will make a large difference.
If you don’t have these basics down as much as your life will allow, it’s going to be difficult to recover as well as you’d like. At the same time, if how you’re implementing your training isn’t allowing for enough recovery, even the perfect lifestyle isn’t going to allow you to get away with those training mistakes. This chapter is going to be all about how to organize your training to ensure that you’re giving yourself the best chance to recover effectively, and thus improve your performance. Importantly, as no two people are going to have the exact same needs, this chapter will help determine what’s going to work for you, as well as how to adjust in the future as your circumstances change.
Plan your training to enhance recovery.
Know your limits and don’t exceed them. If you are reading this you’re probably not an 18-year old brimming with energy, enthusiasm, and hormones. Assuming you have your life in order, the biggest opportunity to ensure you’re recovering appropriately is to properly manage your training. If your life is not in order from a recovery perspective, and you know it’s never going to happen because of external circumstances, that’s fine, too. In that case, training management becomes REALLY important as it’s the only real strategy you have at your disposal to manage your recovery and ensure that you’re in a state to make progress.
Most people choose to go hard every day until they get hurt or they’re forced to back off due to complete exhaustion. This is not a smart approach. You’re much better of pre-emptively planning how hard your training is, and then STICKING to those rules no matter. You have to protect yourself from yourself! This is especially true when training is going well, and not sticking to the rules is the best way to ensure training stops going smoothly. More than anything, it’s hard to hold back. Be disciplined!
There are several strategies that will be useful for planning recovery into your training. All of the strategies are relative and individual. What you perceive as hard is hard for YOU. It may be easy for someone else. What you perceive as easy is easy for YOU. It may be hard for someone else. ‘A lot of work’ is relative to the individual. Some people can handle more than others. For all of these strategies, you will likely have to play with what feels right. If it FEELS too easy, give it some time and watch your progress. You may find out it’s just right and you’re constantly improving. Don’t add more!! In contrast, if you find yourself struggling, do less. Any of the strategies can be adjusted as you see fit.
I’ll show you EXACTLY what to do next time.
FASTER. EASIER. BETTER.