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If there’s one area that seems to be underestimated in the world of endurance sports, rest and recovery are near the top of the list. We live in a world where instant gratification is the norm. We don’t mind working hard but we better see the results in a hurry. Who has time for recovery anyway?
When my wife was a practicing Physical Therapist, she had a supervisor who was notorious for being constantly on the go with little down time. He was known to average less than 4 hours of sleep each night. When others would question the effectiveness of that practice, he would often say, “I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.”
Religions around the world have practiced the concept of Sabbath rest for thousands of years. Having a weekly rest from work is a healthy and rejuvenating practice in order to function at our very best.
Missing Puzzle Pieces
Athletes of all types and levels should also see rest and recovery as the final pieces to the training puzzle. For those who may have forgotten, we break our bodies down during our hard workouts and races.
It’s during the recovery period when all the magic happens. While we rest, our bodies properly adapt to the training stimulus in order to have the ability to go farther and faster in the next hard session.
Push too hard too soon without proper recovery and our bodies let us know loud and clear. Symptoms like fatigue, lingering soreness, lack of motivation, and even going backwards in our training are powerful reminders that rest and recovery are key ingredients in our training recipe.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way on more than one occasion. With spring and summer races being canceled or postponed, Strava has become my competitive outlet of choice.
For those unfamiliar with this app, not only can you record your various activities like running, biking, and swimming but you can also explore “segments” in the area where you live. Segments can be short or long distances and anyone can attempt the course record (CR). When you achieve the record, you’re rewarded with a crown as “king” or “queen” of that segment.
For those of us who are ultra-competitive, going after these segment crowns can be downright addictive. We reason, “It won’t do any harm to grab this short segment even though I went hard yesterday.” And so begins the quest to take more and more “real estate.” Like little Napoleons, we seek to extend our rule and reign in the Strava world.
But there’s always a price to pay for this quick turnaround where rest and recovery have been removed from the equation. At the very least, those of us who have played this game on a regular basis begin feeling worn down and broken. At the worst, we become injured and forced to rest whether we like it or not.
A Few Tips for Proper Rest and Recovery
Here are a few ways to maximize all of that hard earned training…
If we’ll see rest and recovery as a gift to our bodies rather than something to be dreaded, we’ll find ourselves full of energy and reaping the rewards that follow.
If you suffer chronic inflammation, chances are you’ve tried everything you could think of to make the pain go away.
The usual solutions people turn to include:
For most people, these solutions fail to provide consistent, long-term relief.
Medications provide short-term relief, special exercises help to some extent, but herbal remedies or supplements may not have worked as well as you hoped.
In today’s highly competitive economy, the new normal is for food manufacturers to use marketing ploys to make their products appear healthy – even when they aren’t.
Maltodextrin is one of the most common, hidden-in-plain-sight cons on the market today. It is glorified, processed sugar that masquerades as “carbs.”
It might sound unbelievable, but read the following quote from BellChem – a top US producer of maltodextrin:
“Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate that can be hundreds of sugar molecules in length, which is much larger than the simple carbohydrate arrangement of glucose. Many soft drinks and other flavored beverages contain maltodextrin in their formulas so that they can have a lower amount of sugar on their nutrition facts labels. On the nutrition label, maltodextrin is included under the “Total Carbohydrate” heading, instead of the “sugars” label.”
The Infantry Battalion that I am fortunate enough to command - 3-187 Infantry, the Iron Rakkasans - conducts an event each Spring called the Iron Warrior Challenge (IWC).
The IWC can be a single event or a series of events designed to test Soldiers physically and mentally. The purpose of this event is to link the currently serving Soldiers with those who previously served in the unit, and to remember those that have gone before us and all they endured in the service of our Great Nation. The event was started by GEN (retired) David Petraeus when he commanded the Iron Rakkasans in the early 90s, and has continued on ever since.