Pain Free Athlete Blog
The Pain Free Athlete blog provides information to help you prevent and overcome physical limitations so you can remain active in your favorite sport. Topics covered will include posture alignment, sports coaching, movement technique, wellness, and functional fitness.
Gain Fitness Through Adequate Recovery
Fitness is gained when you rest. The workouts you do break your body down. It is commonly accepted that you don't weight train everyday because you would continually grow weaker with each workout. Every time you lift weights you are creating micro-tears in your muscles. The same principle applies to endurance sports. You are depleting your body with each hill you climb and interval you complete. The body can only rebuild to a stronger, fitter state if allowed the time and rest needed for adequate recovery.
Marvin Zaunder, sports performance coach and psychotherapist explains that our inability to rest hinges on our desire to be in control. “In western culture, we tend to be consumed by the perspective that the thing that we want to happen-getting stronger, faster, fitter-is happening only when we're working on it, exerting some kind of control. We aren't used to the idea that letting go, resting and relaxing control can be as important to healing recovery, and strengthening as they are.”
We mistakenly believe that we need to be actively engaging in our sport to gain fitness when the opposite is the truth. We'd rather push our bodies to the brink of collapse, injury or sickness than take a rest day to recover. Using skewed logic and fear tactics, we over rule the protective little voice in our heads that tells us to slow down and take it easy. Our taskmaster inside, sometimes called our inner gremlin, scares us into making bad choices for our body and soul. She/He urges us to train constantly, harder and longer than our competitors, train till we can't train anymore, then push even harder. She/He warns that we'll get fat and lose fitness if we take the day off.
For myself the training gremlin didn't let me rest, and my body suffered the consequences. Sadly, having surgery or being ill was the only recovery I ever afforded myself.
It wasn't until I read the article “The Making of a Corporate Athlete” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz that I began to understand the value of rest. The premise is that energy, not time is our most precious resource. Our supply of energy is limited and must be regularly restored. Rest and recovery rituals renews our energy supply.
Energy expenditure is stress and comes in four forms – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Exercise is stress, having an argument with a family member raises your stress, solving a difficult mental problem creates stress, and not living in line with your values is stressful. Appreciate all the sources of stress in your life and strive to balance this with recovery.
“Chronic stress without recovery depletes energy reserves, leads to burnout and breakdown, and ultimately undermines performance.” (The Making of a Corporate Athlete)
The fluid movement between stress and recovery is essential for high performance. Overtraining results from inadequate recovery and is signaled by feelings of constant fatigue, inability to raise your heart rate during hard efforts, apathy for training, increased muscle soreness, depression, GI distress and more. There is no quick fix for overtraining and it is best to be avoided.