Growth happens when you rest, not when you are training. If you just train constantly with little rest you will slow down, weaken and eventually get injured. Rest is the key.
Many athletes (like me!) spend a ton of money on gadgets like heart rate monitors, power meters, GPS devices and fancy training programs, but in the end you will improve just as much by optimizing your rest and recovery as you will from optimizing your workouts. Good coaches focus on this – which is partly why I think the best money you can spend to improve your performance in a sport is on a coach.
How to optimize your rest?
Get quality sleep in a dark room with no noise
Take ice baths after exercising
Alternate warm and cool showers in the morning to flush stale fluid from your muscles
Use a foam roller and do self-massage
Take in high quality nutrition immediately after finishing workouts (200-400 calories with a blend of sugar and protein – I like a dozen raw almonds and 4-5 dates with some water, or a smoothie made with Vega and fruit)
Give your nervous system a rest by not watching too much TV or using the computer a ton
Stay off your feet when don’t need to be on them
Cut back on stimulants like caffeine and sugar, especially in the evening
Learn yoga, develop a home practice and do it regularly (focus on your known tight/bound muscles)
I’ve never ran 50 miles in one go before, but will at the Copper Canyon Ultra a little over a month from now. The approach I’ve taken to building up to this race is very unconventional. Most running programs are linear in nature. With base miles building and long runs (bi-weekly) building up to a considerable sum every week, then a multi-week taper.
There are clear rules around not increasing long runs more than 10% each time, and in building up to a steady weekly mileage base (that can push 50-60+ miles per week for an ultra runner – with elite runners getting well over 100mpw).
I’m following a different approach because I have other things I chose to do with my time besides run, and I also want to avoid injury. The principles I’m following in my training include the following ideas that I’ve made up based on my own past experience doing marathons, Ironmans and a couple 50Ks:
Outcomes for endurance events are more due to mental, nutrition and pacing factors than they are of raw fitness. Therefore, focusing on training the non-fitness aspects will have material value on race day.
The limiter of speed in an endurance event is rarely aerobic fitness, it is usually muscular strength and power related (or mental strength related). Training strength and power (mental and physical) is therefore the key once you are reasonably fit aerobically.
Biomechanical efficiency is key, the lack of which can result in injury and/or inefficiency that throws any nutrition and racing plan out the window…the longer the event, the more important this become. Learning and using proper technique is critical.
If you are too tired from training to enjoy your life and all it has to offer, then you either aren’t training properly or don’t have your priorities in the right spot 🙂
Gotta run right now (to the Grand Opening of Shakti Redmond, woo hoo!) but will post next some more details of my specific training for the upcoming 50 miler.
I just finished my first track workout in 8 years. I owe it to a friend for motivating me to go. We did 3 x 1 mile repeats at a pace far too fast than I should have been running – with a 1/2 mile jog between each.
I survived the workout and now feel good having done it. I’ll be back next week.
There is no way I ever would have done this workout at this pace on my own. Having 30-40 other runners suffering with me was a massive motivating force. Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing.
<if you can’t see the video embedded in this post, click here>
A few months ago I got the chance to sit down with Robert Cheeke, my good friend and an accomplished vegan bodybuilder. Robert is currently super-busy working on his second documentary (“Vegan Brothers in Iron”), his first book (due out sometime soon!) and touring the country as a representative for Vega and as motivational speaker. He frequently gives talks at health/fitness festivals, universities and vegetarian/animal rights conferences.
Robert is a super-motivating guy who really walks his talk – he’s been vegan for over 15 years and in that time has gone from 120 pounder to 190+ pound bodybuilder, all using 100% plant-based nutrition. I split the interview into three different clips. I’ll post the second two in the next week or two, but wanted to share this one with you right away.
In this <10 minute clip, we discuss:
What Robert is up to – filming, speaking, competing!
I love the science of fitness and weightlifting. In most cases, you spend a ton of effort and time to tire your body out, just so the last few moments of work can cause your body to grow.
In weightlifting, it is only last few reps that cause your muscle to grow, everything else is a glorified warm-up.
In my yoga practice, the same is true for building not only mental strength, but a stronger mind. B.K.S. Iyengar, who is largely responsible for popularizing yoga in the West, says that “your yoga pose begins when you want to come out.” This is absolutely the truth.
In any physical practice, I’ve found the best results by sticking with something when I feel it is time to quit. 100% of the time, my body can go further, it is my mind that takes me out.
In my workplace, it is often by sticking with the uncomfotable situations that I am able to make a breakthrough on a project, or in bridging the gap in a relationship with someone I need to work with.
Make progress by sticking with it and pushing through, not by checking out.
I’m usually not a big fan of Men’s Health magazine, but this month there is a great article full of life lessons from inspiring people
Lance Armstrong, Michael Pollan (author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma) and even Barack Obama are featured! The more I read about Barack the more I like him and look forward to the change he is bound to bring to this country and the world. You can check out the portion of the article about Barack here, based on an interview he did back in August.
The article also has a link to download (for $5) a pdf with more content from the interview including lessons about leadership, health and parenting. I haven’t checked out this download yet…if you have, leave a comment and let me know how it is!