Happy holiday Monday! I hope you’re having a great long weekend and are staying warm. I know that locally we’re experiencing some cold weather, which I’ve done a good job of avoiding by camping out on the couch.
It only seemed fitting to write about the importance of proper recovery, as that’s been my only choice these last few days. I had prepared myself for this procedure to be like my tonsils, which was probably a good idea – always prepare for the worst and be happy when it’s better, right? While the first two days of recovery were pretty easy, day three hit me hard. The swelling really hit and it felt like my lower jaw had been broken, but it’s still easier than those damn tonsils! At least eating is possible with this situation.
While I might not be overly happy with the situation, I know the rest and recovery is good for me – beyond just the dental work. When you’re working hard in the gym, training for something and pushing your body, you need to take the proper time to recover. This is actually when your body is able to change.
If you’re not seeing the results you’re looking for, it may actually be from a lack of recovery time. A smart training plan always has rest days factored into it – even though athletes will complain that it’s the hardest day of the week for them, it’s necessary.
The time off training will allow your body to:
- Replenish glycogen stores for energy. When you train, you draw from your body’s glycogen stores, which are restocked through a healthy diet. Taking time off allows these stores to fully restock, giving you more energy when you return.
- Reduce the risk of injury. When you’re tired, you’re more prone to injury – both from a physical and mental standpoint. Being mentally tired can cause injury from lack of attention to technique.
- Recover mentally. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your training goals and start living a life of tunnel vision. By stepping back and taking time off, you can focus on other things in life again. Even just a day off can give you the break you need to come back refreshed and excited to train again.
- Rebuild and grow. While the hard work is put in at the gym, the real changes happen when you rest. Training breaks down your muscle tissue, tearing the fibers. When you rest, you allow the tears to rebuild, which is how strength is gained and size is increased. Rest for gains!
Even if muscle growth isn’t your goal, the stress of training needs to be balanced with proper rest. Your body’s inflammation response is triggered from training in an effort to remove damaged tissue – yes, cardio causes this too! Give your joints, tendons, and ligaments a break with some much needed R&R.
Other times you need to take time off the gym include when you’re sick, injured, or just feeling “off”. Your body always wants to maintain homeostasis, and will tell you in whatever way it can that it needs a break. Always ask yourself honestly if a training session is going to help you reach your goal, or set you back another day.
Even though I’ve been feeling physically and mentally strong these last few weeks, I know my body was due for a break. This forced time off will benefit me in the long run, especially heading into competition prep, the most physically demanding challenge. To make the most of this forced time off, I’m also cutting myself some slack on my diet. Obviously some of this is out of my control as the thought of chewing a lot of food is NOT appealing, but I’m taking it a step further and enjoying food I haven’t had in a long time. Kraft Diner (over cooked and super soft noodles, amazing), ice cream, and cupcakes? Yes please! This mental break will also be helpful when I get back on track – I’ll have allowed myself foods I don’t normally indulge in, (hopefully) reducing some cravings down the road.
Don’t beat yourself up over a rest day – even if you take some extra time off. Focus on the thought that it’ll allow you to come back stronger and healthier next session. Cut yourself some slack and recover to improve!