We’ve talked about sleep before and how important it is to your well being, but now as an athlete it takes on a whole new dimension. Your workout plus your recovery equal a training effect. If you have a workout sans recovery, you really did not do much of anything. Recovery is where the magic happens. If you desire to be a better athlete and want to Perform Beautifully, it is important for you to realize that recovery is more than just resting, it’s knowing what to eat, when and when to drop back on intensity and volume with your workouts.
I See You One Hour and I Raise You Two
For all intents and purposes in this post today, I will be addressing the recreational athlete. Since most of the folks out there are not trying to become the next Lance Armstrong, I am going to tailor this to the girl/guy at the office who likes to run a triathlon or two a year as a hobby. Knowing that, recovery becomes less scientific (i.e. 2.8g of carbs for every blah blah) in the beginning and more about setting and keeping good habits.
To start, recovery begins before the workout. Let me say that again. Recovery begins before the workout. Before you go for a long run, a tough hockey game, a pickup basketball game or a grueling leg work out, you had better started fueling your body at least an hour before. Depending on how long you are going to perform, decides what you are going to eat but for us right now, we are going light. We have a 90 min. run in front of us and we need some fuel. Sounds like a good time for a quick shake made with protein powder and juice with a 100% SG WW bagel. Lightly buttered to perfection, toasted just enough to melt the butter. YUM. For the pre and post meals you want to think:
Small amount of protein, 2 to 3 times the amount of carb. So pp=approx. 20g of protein and the juice and the bagel provide about 60g of carb. Keep it simple.
What I really want you to remember is for every hour of exercise you do, you need to have that much time in recovery as well. So we’re going for a 90 min. run, we’re going to recover a bare min. of 90 min. Let’s see what that looks like:
Immediately after work out: Gatorade type drink with a bit of protein added (like ½ scoop)*, or chocolate milk
*premade versions of this exist already,
Within a half hour: a plate full of food where 1/3 is filled with a pure protein source and 2/3 of your plate is filled with starches and veggies. Small chicken breast with brown rice and roasted root veggies. A grilled chicken sandwich on 100% whole grain bread stuffed with lettuce and tomatoes and a side salad.
Within an hour of that: a small snack like a yogurt or high protein granola.
This is great if you work out to enjoy yourself but still be competitive amongst your coworkers and friends. Your reality is much more different than that of a professional athlete. You still have to go to work and feed your kids every day. You have obligations outside of yourself that demand your time. Because of this, you do not have the desire to sit down and calculate pound for pound what you need to succeed. You are looking for a quick effective formula that is going to give you that edge over the chic that doesn’t have kids and thinks she’s better than you. (Make sure she doesn’t read this, too;).
Looking Past Today
The other part of recovery is knowing when to back off so as to improve upon your fitness level. Almost every athlete I come across thinks the same thing: every workout needs to harder than hard and the more I do the better I am. Neither one of these can be further from the truth. So let’s just cut right to the chase and put it out there:
Make sure you have a distinct offseason/recovery time. It needs to be at least 4 to 8 weeks in length where your exercise does not reach anything close to race/game time or pace.
You need to have one week per month that is easy. I mean easy. Go in the gym and kick some tires, run some laps at half of race pace, work on just your shooting—nothing full court, does not matter the sport, just make it easy. This takes many forms so become a friend of cross training and you will accept this better.
You need to have at least one day of a four day schedule to be easy. You may break a bit of a sweat but you did not set a record here in any way. In fact, you should feel like you did not work out at all and wonder why you changed your clothes.
If you can incorporate this into your training schedule, you will begin to see changes in your athletic ability and in your body composition as well if your diet is spot on. That is, of course, assuming you are sleeping and planning your menus!
Stay tuned for more! WOOP WOOP!:o)