The importance of rest and recovery

I always thought that training at 100% all the time meant better results, but that’s not always the case. Having always been a ‘go hard or go home’ individual, slowing down and resting was never something I liked to do.

But when I came back to the sport a few years ago after having a year off (from running myself into the ground), I wanted to change my approach and train smarter. This meant building rest and recovery periods into my training schedule to ensure longevity and consistency in this sport. It should come as no surprise that incorporating appropriate rest resulted in better performance.

I think the aspect of rest and recovery is often overlooked by some people (including myself sometimes) but having practiced this more regularly, I have come to realise its instrumental importance in staying on track and improving one’s performance over time.

I tried a few things, and they seemed to work. But everyone is different, and the only way to know what suits your body is by trial and error – that’s my opinion anyway. Here are some rest and recovery activities that I’ve implemented in my programme.  

Sufficient Sleep

pexels-photoThis should be an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t get enough sleep, especially if those people are training and working full-time. We’re busy people, and we lead busy lives so getting enough shut eye is important. If you’re training, it’s even more important because your body does a great deal of repairing during sleep. 

I’m sometimes bad at staying on top of this, usually because I’m lying awake at night thinking about things (like fighting). To combat this, I try and get to bed as early as I can and read a book for half an hour – whatever gets me in the sleepy mood.

Some articles I’ve read suggest sleeping in a very dark room with dark bedding. The darker colours make you feel more sleepy because the ‘sleep hormones’ are produced in the dark. I’ve also read that you shouldn’t have devices like phones and TVs in the room. These tend to keep your brain alert, especially if you’re getting constant notifications from your phone!  

Taking a short break from training

I used to think the world would end if I took a night off training. It certainly didn’t, and my body felt better for it. If you’re fatigued beyond belief, and you know you’re not gonna get anything out of training because you can barely move, taking a night off or replacing the session with something light can really help you bounce back and make you feel re-energised.

Active recovery

pexels-photo (2)This kind of follows on from my last point. Active recovery is basically doing a low-impact exercise or activity. It’s a great alternative to regular training if you want to mix things up. Walking, swimming, yoga or going for a light jog are some activities you can do to replace a regular training session. They’re less demanding on your body, but you’re still getting some exercise.

Implementing an official ‘rest day’ into training

Sunday is always rest day for me. It is the day where I do absolutely nothing. Sometimes I rest Saturday and Sunday, which is OK too. On my rest day, I take time out, watch movies, play games, read or go and do something fun. It’s a great way to take the mind off the week’s hectic training schedule, and reset for the week ahead.

Massage and maintenance 

Fotosearch_k3080741Sometimes the lactic acid in my body is too much to handle. When my muscles get so tight that I can’t move, I call on my trusty massage therapist Lana to give me a deep tissue massage. It hurts like hell, but what’s one hour of pain compared to a week of crap performance due to muscle soreness and stiffness.

Other fighters I know of see chiropractors, osteopaths, take ice baths or use more modern methods of recovery like oxygen chambers. My take is if it works, do it!

Eating the right food

When I’m training hard, I eat lots! I mean lots! I’m not talking about  buckets of KFC a day (I wish) – I’m talking about healthy food. My body needs the fuel when I’m training hard.

carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoesBack in the day, I used to eat lettuce leaves and carrots and expect my body to perform well. It obviously didn’t, and I felt like passing out all the time because I was running on fumes. When you’re in a sport that requires you to be at a certain weight limit, eating the right food and the right amount can be challenging. With that in mind, it’s important to seek the right nutritional advice and guidance so you can eat and train to your max.

When I’m not eating enough I feel crap. It makes sense that you need the right fuel, and enough of it, to perform. Much like a high-performance car, your body needs optimum intake to do well. I like to eat lots of vegetables, some good carbs (kumara / sweet potato, rice, oats), protein (meat, eggs, cottage cheese), and good fats (avocado, nuts) to help fuel my body for training. You might want to discuss with your nutritionist the foods you should eat to help with optimum performance. Overall, it’s important to fuel, and fuel properly!  

Conclusion

In my opinion, rest and recovery is just as important as training itself. There are lots of things you can try or even implement in your schedule to assist with getting the right R ‘n R into your regime. Obviously rest and recovery shouldn’t be confused with taking big breaks from training, because the goal here is to remain consistent.

If you have any ideas, or you want to share some of your own tips on rest and recovery, feel free to post them in the comment box below.

2 thoughts on “The importance of rest and recovery

  1. Hi Mel cool article and I’m really excited I’ve found your page. I’m just going though my own experience of total burnout!! I picked up my gloves for the first time in six months yesterday… only a couple of few minute rounds as i dont want to over do it, but it felt so good!! After numerous doctors, tests, natropaths and personal researching on every topic under the sun as I thought it was the end for me!! What I’ve come to learn is really finding that balance with training, rest, recovery, diet, lifestyle rountines and of course being a female (hormones!!) So it’s really cool to see you sharing your knowledge. I’ve been trying to teach our girls how important this is especially with some being mothers on the top!! This is a few little tips thats helped me so far..Keeping a daily journel on energy patterns, hormone cycles, sleep patterns, daily routines and so on helps. It’s interesting having a bit more understanding of yourself! Gut health, consistent eating habits, learning a little bit on how your arenal glands work and reading the warning signs!! Your body is an amazing thing it will start telling you when it’s falling behind.
    Thanks so much Mel really looking forward to sharing your page with the girls!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Della

      Firstly, thank you so much for the comment 🙂 It’s encouraging to see that these posts are helping others in some way and that’s what this blog is all about! I can understand your struggles with burn out and yes, being a female has it’s limitations but I’m in the process of researching more about female physiology and how to optimise training. Once I have those pieces of the puzzle I’ll be sharing that info on here.

      The suggestions you’ve put forward sound really useful so thank you for sharing those. It can be quite frustrating going through medical experts only to come to a dead end so yes, having an understanding of your body is quite key.

      Apologies if you got sent a ‘comment awaiting approval’ message when you commented. I’ll try remove that so people can comment freely. Anyway, glad this post was useful to you and thanks again for your ideas 🙂

      Like

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