How to Have Quality Rest and Recovery

Last week I talked about the importance of rest and recovery. I mentioned that not all rest is equally good. Some people rest better than other. The quality of your rest is determined by how well (and quickly) it helps you recover physically and mentally.

Some people spend their rest days laying down all day watching TV. This is not a good use of a rest day. First of all, this passive form of recovery isn't that effective. Doing some light physical activity such as walking helps your body recover better than just laying down all day (increases blood flow). Secondly, you need to also actively recover your body by doing things such as stretching, icing, getting massages, etc. These things help your body recover back to full strength much faster than just laying down all day. However, the best and most natural form of physical recovery is in fact, sleeping. Getting an extra couple hours of sleep during rest days is very important.

Furthermore, spending your rest days just laying down watching Netflix is not the best way to recover mentally. Yes, it may be relaxing, but it does not satisfy the many social, emotional, and spiritual needs that humans have. When you spend 6 days training hard, you often sacrifice family time, and time spent focusing on your other passions, hobbies, and priorities. You should spend your rest days catching up on these things. Spending time with your family, exploring your other passions, traveling, and going to church are great ways to balance your life out and maintain mental health. When you do this, you not only prevent burnout, but you keep your mind fresh and happy, which improves performance.

This type of high quality rest isn't just designated for rest days. It can be done during training days as well. After a long day of training, You can relax and unwind in healthy ways. Instead of watching too much TV, staying up late surfing the web, eating too much comfort food, or drinking alcohol, you can rest in more healthy ways. You can have a nice family dinner. You can watch a great movie or read a book. You can spend 15-30 minutes each night stretching and icing. You can go out on a fun social activity with friends. You can practice a hobby such as a musical instrument. You can take a quick nap during the day. You can meditate or pray every night before going to sleep. You can go to bed at a set time every night and get enough sleep. 

Healthy forms of recovery help maintain your progress. Unhealthy forms of recovery, such as drinking too much alcohol, take away from your progress. It's like taking a step back after progressing two steps forward after a good day of training. Why would you want to undo what you've worked so hard to gain?

Many athletes can train for 30-40 hours every week. But can they do this consistently, every week for years without harming their body or burning out? Your ability to do so largely depends on how good you are at resting. Try to master the art of rest and recovery. If you can do this, you will have a great advantage over your competition.

Next week, I will talk about how your motivation level and mindset affects your training schedule and recovery.