The Unsexy Side of Performance
The athletic world is full of type-A rockstars. Obviously, there are exceptions, but I find I am surrounded by athletes who are committed to their training and have a bit of a mental battle if they miss a workout. Resting and recovering is just not sexy.
I get it. I am pretty Type A myself and I love to be busy. The thing is, my body can’t tell the difference between training stress, work stress, emotional stress and all the other stressors I can encounter. So even though I may only be working out a small percentage of my day, my body cannot recover properly because it just switches from one stress to another. Not great.
I am approaching this week’s workout Wednesday a bit differently because I don’t share this side of my training enough. I share the multi-day races, the Polar Performance reports and the sweaty selfies but I don’t show you the extra naps, the Netflix watching, the book reading and the sitting on the couch and scrolling on my phone. The reality is, that part of my life has as much to do with my performance as my training.
I am not good at resting. I actually despise it. I sit down on the couch and suddenly see everything that needs to be done. It takes a bit of self-control to turn off that perpetual motion and spend a block of time doing as little as possible. For today’s “workout”, I thought I would share some of the things I do or have set in place to ensure I am getting the rest I need.
I’m putting this one first because it trumps everything. I used to get about 5 -6 hours of sleep a night. I now get about 8 hours average. Every night. It takes discipline to not just let Netflix roll into the next episode or to excuse yourself at a social event to make sure you are getting your z’s but here are a few things I have done to make sure that I am set up for success:
- Plan my day. If I schedule in everything I need, I won’t need to stay up late getting things done.
- Set an alarm on my phone to send a reminder to go to bed. iPhone introduced this in its last update and I love it but there are lots of apps you can use.
- Unplug 30 minutes before bed. When that little notification goes off, I get ready for bed and read until I fall asleep.
- On weekends, I have at least one nap.
This list may as well be “A List Of Things That Jessica Used To Be The Worst At.” I informed my sports nutritionist that I wasn’t drinking 8 glasses of water a day and she told me to “figure it out.” Doing a bit of research on the effect of dehydration on sports performance AND aging has given me all the ammunition I need to drink up. Here are a few things I do to make it happen:
- I use my soda stream to make carbonated water.
- I bring a water bottle with me everywhere.
- At work, I set out time limits for my water to be consumed. (1 by 10 am, 1 by noon, 1 by 3 pm, 1 by 5 pm) BOOM. 8 glasses. (Remember, when you are working out, you need to replace that on top of your regular hydration needs).
- TRY to limit myself to one coffee a day.
- I start every morning with a big glass of water with lemon and sea salt.
DANG it’s hard to foam roll when nothing hurts. But all the little things add up. Here are some of the preventative things I have started doing.
- Stretching. I don’t care about the research that says it slows you down – I stretch after my runs because running a little less slowly and uninjured is better than missing time due to an injury. I have also been all about the hot yoga this winter and have gone a couple times a week.
- I do my nails once a week because it guarantees I will sit still for at least an hour.
- I do strengthening work to activate my glutes and core.
What are your tricks for recovering from your training?