Read time: 3min.
By Coach Yan Busset
In the world of fitness, especially for Endurance athletes, there's a critical element that's often undervalued: recovery. There is no progression without recovery; It's as crucial as the training itself. Training stresses the body and can destroy muscle fibers and cells, but recovery allows your body to overcompensate and rebuild a better version of yourself. It’s often the part that is underrated, especially for many age groupers who juggle work, family, and training, and it's where people tend to cut corners. Remember, it takes a long time to build good fitness; we are talking about physiological changes in your body, which take years. It's the unglamorous, yet it's the cornerstone rule of for consistency that paves the way to achieving your fitness goals.
The Downside of Skipping Recovery
Neglecting recovery can have numerous negative effects, including:
Lower cognitive function
Weakened immune system
Potential weight gain
These aren't just setbacks; they're obstacles that can derail your entire fitness journey.
Your Recovery Toolkit
Planning: It's vital to space out intense workouts to ensure recovery time. If you miss a workout, don't stack it up later; this only compromises the quality of other sessions. Avoid pushing always too hard on the last rep – the gains are minimal compared to the extra stress and recovery time needed. ( check here my article of optimal training workload)
Fueling & Nutrition: High-quality, real nutrient-dense food is non-negotiable. Plus make sure your sessions are well-fueled (before, during, and after) to not only sustain effort but also aid in quicker recovery. Hydration is crucial – aim for a minimum of 1.5 liters per day, plus 1liter/h of training (in average, depending on temperatures and on your sweat rate). ( check my nutrition tips here)
Sleep and Downtime: Sleep is the ultimate recovery tool. If speep was invented today it would be the most efficient recovery tool ever, the most expensive and so efficient that it would be illegal! Without proper a proper one, there's no health and athletic future, no real consistency. Living with poor sleep is like living on credit – eventually, you have to pay back. A consistent wake-up and sleep time helps set your biological clock, and ensuring a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep is vital. Do not compromise with it! Make your bedroom a sanctuary for rest: dark, cool, and free from distractions like your phone. Screen time is a goal achieving killers!
Active Vs. Passive Recovery: If staying inactive is hard, active recovery can be a good alternative. Activities like low-intensity Zone 1 training can improve blood flow and aid recovery without overtraining. ( Check the article I was interviewed on Ironman.com about it here)
Water Immersion: Techniques such as cold exposure or contrasting baths can help improve blood flow and promote recovery. ( check my article on cold exposure here)
Additional Techniques: Massage, stretching, percussive massage guns, and electrostimulation… there are a lot of additional techniques that can improve recovery, with varying degrees of research supporting their actual positive effects. You may use these, but only if the extra time required doesn't compromise your training and sleep time. If you have time for these, go for it. Otherwise, if you are a time-crunched athlete, prioritize your precious time to optimize sleep and training.
A Cautionary Note
When something compromises your training and you are caught in a loop of good training periods followed by breakdowns due to the flu or chronic pain, it's very often because you are doing something wrong in the bigger picture. You might be ignoring one of the three pillars of health fitness: usually, it's a bad habit in nutrition, poor sleep, or poor stress management. The answer is right in front of your nose, so obvious that you don’t see it. That's where having outside feedback from a friend or coach can come in handy, as we often are poor judges of our own bad habits, becoming experts at ignoring red flags.
Conclusion: Embracing Recovery as Part of Training
Recovery is not just a break from training; it's an integral, active part of your training regimen. By prioritizing recovery, you're ensuring that your hard work in training translates into real, sustainable progress. It's about training smart, not just hard, and allowing your body the time it needs to come back stronger.
Thank you for reading and see you next week!
Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:
1. NEW! Join our Weekend Winter Training Camp 2024 at the Vierumäki Sports Institute (Heinola, Finland) 09.-11.02.2024 (more info here)
2. If you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here
3. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.
4. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.
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