What I Learned About Recovery From Social Media
Like many of you, I train with teammates and friends. But, after the session we all go home and do our thing before meeting up again the next day. In fact, the majority of the day we were not doing the same thing and while they were getting faster I was getting sick. What was I doing wrong?
It turns out what I didn't know was actually hurting me. While I was home in bed perusing my Instagram account I started noticing photos of athletes I know doing what looked like pure product endorsement: using rollers, compression boots, meditating, doing yoga and Pilates, drinking protein shakes, and taking supplements. It all seemed to be a bit forced to me and I had written these things off throughout my career as gimmick.
I went back to training, but as I increased my volume and encountered more injuries and illness I figured it was worth paying attention to what other athletes were doing outside of their training to maximize their gains. Here's what I learned:
Nutrition Matters | #Eeeats
What you put in your body determines what you can take out of it; it's as simple as that. For me, that meant starting to focus on post workout recovery, supplements and making sure I was eating enough. The right nutritional balance means you can push more in training, get sick less, and generally build more fitness.
It's Not All in Your Head, But Some of It Is and That's Important | #Zen
Stress can come from a number of outside sources including work, family and training. It's important to control stress to maximize performance, so take some time for mental focus and relaxation. For me that means yoga, meditation and occasionally taking a session off to get work done or enjoy a date night.
Sleep Before You're Dead | #zzzzzs
I wasn't staying up at all hours, but I would stay up late during the week for work or just to finish my Netflix binge. Six to seven hours of sleep a night isn't the worst, and I would do what we all do, catch up on weekends. What I didn't realize was that the sleep deprivation mattered and the cumulative effect made my end-of-week workouts weaker. The small nightly deficit also meant that my body was being subject to changing sleep patterns every weekend.
Little Muscles Can Do Big Things | #Core
Most of my training season was spent in physical therapy, starting with rebuilding my felt arm strength after collar bone surgery in November and again in June for a torn muscle in my hamstring/ glut. What I noticed during my sessions is that while my primary muscles needed for swimming biking a running were strong, but many of my supporting muscles were weak from sitting at a desk all day. It's important to focus in both the off season and in season on building supportive muscles to prevent injury and improve performance.