Improve Your Recovery to Get Stronger

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)
  • SLEEP!!!! Go to bed early and wake up early!

How do you optimize your rest and recovery?

A view of Copper Lake, taken during a long day hike a few weeks ago near Snohomish, WA on the West Fork trail.

Weekly Training: Jan 17-23, 2011

This week my training featured more high intensity and cross-training work than I originally planned. I also didn’t get in any long-ish runs. Not a huge deal. Next week I’ll get in my last big long run before Copper Canyon. My legs feel great and a little nagging hip and knee issue on my left side is being kept at bay right now. Taking a couple weeks totally off running during the holiday was just what I needed.

Monday, Jan 17. Running intervals :36.55 (4.6 miles) + 20 KB swings a few hours later.

Warm up, then 6 x 2 minute hard efforts with 2 minutes easy recovery between each followed by warm down.  Ran around Medina neighborhood on flat/rolling paved roads.

A few hours later did 20 kettlebell swings with a 53 pounder.

Tuesday, Jan 18. Running intervals :25:00 (3 miles) + Crossfit workout 30 min later.

Ran around Greenlake at a good clip, with 4 x 100 meter all out sprints. About 30 minutes later did first class in intro series for Crossfit! Did drills and warm up, then did workout for time: 4 sets of 5 burpees, 7 air squats, 9 sit ups, 200 meter run. My total time = 7:33 ….came in first out of the group! Including warm up and warm down the class took only 30 minutes.

Wednesday, Jan 19. Track workout tempo run :31:00 (4.25 miles).

1/2 mile warm up, 3 mile tempo run, 3/4 mile warm down with Eastside Runners. Ran with group #7. Goal time was 20:33 and we finished in 20:13. First 2 miles were right on pace in 6:51 and sped up the last 800 meters. Felt very strong today.

Thursday, Jan 20th. Running easy intervals :25:00 (3 miles) + Crossfit workout 30 min later.

Ran around Greenlake at an easy pace with 4 x 50 meter all out sprints throughout. Crossfit included warm up and then timed 12 minute workout for max rounds of: 3 ring dips (using bands if needed), 5 high box jumps, 7 push press overhead with 45lbs. I did 10 sets….highest were a couple who did 11…I could have done that many but took my time moving between exercises 🙂 .

Friday, Jan 21st. Kettlebell swings :9:00.

3 sets of 20 swings with 53lb. 2-3 minutes rest between each.

Saturday, Jan 22nd. Crossfit + Easy Running :11:00 (1.25 miles) later in the day.

Warm ups then main set =  21/15/9 of  wall ball, kettlebell swings with 53lbs, 50 feet lunge walk. My time = 5:54. Fist finishers were just over 5 minutes.  Rest of 5-6 minutes then “Tabata” sit-ups (4 mins). “Tabata” means 20 seconds of all out movement followed by 10 seconds rest, done 8 times. You score tabatas based on the minimum number of reps you complete across all the 20 second intervals. My score = 8 for the tabata situps given then I completed only 8 reps during a few of the 20 second all-out efforts. The highest score in the class was 12. We finished with 5-6 minutes stretching.

Easy 11 minute run to test out a new pair of shoes…the Inov-8 Roclite 295’s. They were too small 🙁 .

Sunday, Jan 23rd.Easy Run :42:26 (4.75 miles). 5 pull ups.

Easy loop around Medina. Tested out some new gear, the Amphipod hydration belt. I love this thing! Took a while to get used to releasing the bottles from the holders, but it’s very well designed and usable with just one hand, whereas my FuelBelt requires two hands to return bottles to the holders.

Total weekly training time = 4:26:41.(~21 miles running)

New Kettlebell @ 53lbs

Image via Wikipedia

I just got a brand new 53-pound kettlebell to join my 32-pounder. The 32 was getting light. Great for higher reps but now is a good time to upgrade. I ordered through a Dragon Door wholesaler, Kettlebility in Seattle, to spare myself crazy-high shipping costs.

A video of the unveiling:

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This morning I did a trail run at Cougar Mountain, about 4.5 miles at a good clip and then 4 fast repeats up a hill (each repeat was 85 seconds). Nice workout given I haven’t been feeling so hot this week after my return from the insanity that is CES.

Also, I got a copy of Pavel’s book “Power to the People” along with my kettlebell. I almost finished it in one sitting! So much good stuff in there. Can’t wait to start dead-lifting again. I always thought squats were more effective and safer, but Pavel thinks differently.