The equation is simple, stress + rest = improvement. How much of all three depends on the person. You’ve heard the expression train smart. Did you know you can also recover smart? Did you know that recovery is ongoing? It happens between sets, between workouts, between days, between training blocks. Too little rest and you end up breaking down, too much and it’s called retirement.
What is smart recovery? It’s just like smart anything, making the most of the time you have. How do you maximize your recovery time? First, make sure you eat high quality foods that work well with your body. For instance they shouldn’t give you gas, indigestion, night sweats, diarrhea (the list goes on…) or any other obvious negative reaction. And, eat soon after exercise. Next, get good sleep at night. You won’t always succeed, but do your best. Soak in cold water for just a few minutes after tough workouts. Not so long or cold that your core temp drops and you’re freezing for hours afterwards though. Elevate your legs when you can. I used to go the to restroom on flights and sit there with my legs up on the sink for a few minutes periodically during long flights. It makes a difference. You can rub your legs or better yet get a massage. Compression clothing is great, feels like you’re being hugged, and so are those compression boots they highlighted during the tour last summer with the air pump thingamabob, although they are quite expensive.
I take an inflammation supplement. Did you know there is one that doesn’t add stress to your kidneys or liver? It’s called Wobenzyme PS (link). It’s an enzyme formula that helps athletes with joint and muscle inflammation, while supporting the immune system and a healthy gut. Not a bad combination.
The point is there are a lot of things to do to help you with recovery and you should be doing some of them. The faster you recover, the sooner and more thoroughly you can beat yourself up again!