Weekly Wrap – Recovery

WeeklyWrap and recovery period

Welcome to my weekly recap and recovery.

Monday: 0
Tuesday: 0
Wednesday: 0
Thursday: 0
Friday: 0
Saturday: 0
Sunday: 0
Total: Wait for it ZERO

 

I know pretty pathetic, right? After my pitfall 2 mile run last Sunday, when I was so exhausted, I realized I needed a break.   My body was just so tired.  I started to do some research on taking a break from exercise and what I found out is that there is a consensus among trainers, coaches and athletes, that can be best summed up with this simple phrase, “Not so fast.” It turns out that one of the best things you can do for your next athletic ambition/competition is to take some downtime, make sure you have ample recovery period.

Coaches have known this forever -– ordering track stars, quarterbacks, cyclists and basketball players to take a serious break after every season, to let the mind and body recover. More recently, exercise physiologists have identified potential markers for cumulative fatigue,  spikes in enzymes, for example, associated with inflammation and muscle damage. Get back into working out before you shed all that built-up fatigue, and you can guarantee substandard performance later. That’s what I was feeling these last couple of weeks.  My body was telling me I need time off to heal.  Another key phrase, I like to throw around, is “listen to your body

The Truth About Recovery Is That You Never Really Recover

To understand how this works, and I apologize in advance for getting all technical on you, but we need to talk about some basic biochemistry.  You see, we don’t actually get fitter at the gym or on the road or in the pool. What we really do  during these hard  core workouts is we break down muscle fibers, which causes the adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.  These two hormones tells our body to wake up.

The “getting fitter” part, comes afterward, while we are eating and resting.  Our body gets to work repairing tissue damage, strengthening our heart and other muscles.  Our body also restores depleted fuel reserves and gets better at transporting oxygen throughout our body.   Our body makes all these changes in order to be a little more  efficient and stronger than before.

So we first stress the body to stimulate change, and then let it recover and adapt -–  so the cumulative effect of all these adaptations is that  we find ourselves fit enough to run a marathon, lift a heavier weight, or play the best game of our adult lives. The problem is that we usually don’t completely recover between workouts. Some of the fatigue stays with us, gradually accumulating during long periods of intense training. Even as we get fitter and fitter, the mechanisms of recovery and adaptation begins to decline, putting us at risk for chronic exhaustion, difficulty sleeping and loss of motivation, evidenced in part by build up of creatine kinase and urea, two by products of muscle break down.

Getting Rid Of Every Last Bit Of Fatigue

Did you know that top athletes typically aim to reach peak fitness about two weeks before a big event?  Two weeks before the big event, the athlete will head into what is called the “taper” period. Research has shown that cumulative fatigue fades away quickly those first two week after stopping strenuous training. While fitness fades very little, meaning that the athlete can show up on race day still in great shape but far more rested, allowing for optimal performance.

So the take away message is: The secret to optimal performance, is to take a break long enough to let all signs of fatigue disappear

Do you ever take time?

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26 thoughts on “Weekly Wrap – Recovery

  1. Excellent post and one I need to read right now. I do take small breaks throughout the year, but probably nothing long enough to erase all fatigue. It’s very tempting to jump back into running after over-stressing my recently injured/healed body with the marathon distance. I have been listening to my body and my knee is telling me is hasn’t had enough recovery time. I plan to take it easy for a while longer. I will probably cycle for a while before running too. Thanks for linking with us Nicole!
    HoHo Runs (hohoruns.blogspot.com) recently posted…A Look Back (WW # 25)My Profile

  2. Great post. I took a full month off of running and 8 weeks off of structured training and just did what I felt like doing at the end of my season. Now I’m building again and my coach and I communicate often so he knows when to schedule recovery days for me based upon how I’m feeling. I’ve been at it long enough to recognize the signs of cumulative fatigue and also be aware of the derailers (business travel) that can tip me over the edge and result in getting sick.
    Kelli recently posted…Blizzard and a lost catMy Profile

  3. My trainer is always telling me that I need more down time between races and that I never really take enough rest days. I think if your body is telling you that you need to rest it’s best to listen so you don’t get injured. Or worse start to dislike running. I am sure you will be back on your feet and feeling rested very soon
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…How to Burn Off Energy While Stuck InsideMy Profile

  4. I think taking a break is a great idea. I have been tossing around ways to manage more down time, when I can finally run again.
    I keep getting forced into breaks because I am injured and I am really tired of it.
    It is always hard to say how long a break should be because everyone is so different, but I hope you start to fee rejuvenated soon 🙂
    http://moreclutterfromkaren.blogspot.com recently posted…Being Sore Makes Me HappyMy Profile

  5. This is such a well written article. Sometimes we all need that week though where we let go and embrace ourselves with compassion and kindness instead of pushing our most extreme limits :)))

  6. I found this so interesting, I used to be very bad about taking time off and hated tapering. I am learning also that as I get older recovery is so much more needed!

  7. This post is so informative! I will fully admit I feel guilty sometimes about taking rest days because I feel like it is counterproductive when in fact it is just the opposite! I can’t remember the last time I ever COMPLETELY took more than one day off in a row, other than when I was sick or injured. But those rest days really do make a big difference!
    Emily @ Out and About recently posted…Training week recap: Jan 18-24, 2016My Profile

  8. It’s so important to take a break after a race or race season. After a goal race, I usually take a week off completely – no workouts. Then my second week, I may swim. Same with my third week. It all depends on how I”m feeling and what is on the schedule. If it’s after my last race of the season then I’m totally down with sitting on my butt for a few weeks and just taking it easy. Letting my body dictate what it feels like doing. I know all too well that when you keep pushing, you run into problems.
    Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails recently posted…#OperationTop5 Week 3: Almost Up and RunningMy Profile

  9. I went into recovery mode afte my marathon, I still question myself it was it long enough. I did nothing for 7 days. I’ve missed one strength training and one run the week after because I forgot my clothes, I say it was a sign I needed to wait. Then I missed my weekend run. I’m ok with it cause I say I’m still recovering. I don’t think I’m pushing myelf and I am trying to listen, but this is new to me I’ve never ran a marathon before nor recovered from it. 🙂 Great post.
    Tricia@MissSippiPiddlin.com recently posted…Timeless Running TipsMy Profile

  10. I agree, its very easy to get caught up in the gotta do “more” mentality. Breaks in training routines are a choice, either you give your body a break willingly…or you end up injured and sidelined. As far as your rut, Sometimes its best to move on and try something new. If you miss it you can a-l-w-a-y-s go back! 🙂
    Autumn @AutumnPTW recently posted…Sleep Clean 101My Profile

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