A Little R&R!
Rest and recovery is key!
We all train hard for optimal performance and to improve our times, lifts or skills. However, do we all pay as much attention to the need for our body to rest and recover for adaptation to take place? It is important that we both physically repair and strengthen our body as well as psychologically provide time to rest and switch off.
Exercise although good for us is also a stressor on the body. With the increase in high intensity workouts and some people exercising intensely most days, could we be doing more harm than good?
There is a fine line between training hard and overtraining and I have certainly overstepped that mark at times. For the first couple of months this year I have taken time off my regular workouts and training to listen to my body and ultimately provide it with the time to rest and recover. I noticed I needed it physically, but also mentally as I was feeling completely burnt out!
Overtraining isn’t really discussed all too much, but it can have serious effects and can undo all the hard work you have done pushing yourself in the gym, on that run or on the bike! Excessive exercise and especially the intensity of the exercise can cause major health problems; it can affect our cortisol levels, a hormone that is released into our body when we experience stress, and as excessive exercise stresses our body our cortisol levels rise. High levels of cortisol can create issues with our sleep and digestion as well as causing depression and weight gain as it triggers your body to hold onto fat. Not something you think about when you exercise!
Overtraining can also have an affect on our immune system; you may start to feel rundown and unwell, lose your appetite and feel chronically exhausted! Not good, hey!
So, what could we do to try and reduce the stress of exercise on the body and ensure the hard work we are putting in helps our body to grow stronger to achieve our goals? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Limit the number of high intensity sessions you complete each week, 2-3 is more than enough for most people.
2. Add variation to you training and workout programmes, include mobility and flexibility and maybe a yoga session to try and reduce the cortisol levels. How about a nice walk, a slow recovery spin on the bike or swim.
3. Build in adequate rest. Allow your body to recover, it is an extremely important part of any training programme, it is not ‘being lazy’ it is required to adapt and grow stronger!
4. Take your nutrition seriously. Work as hard with your nutrition as you do with your fitness. Nourish the body, support it and help it by fuelling it with the food it needs to thrive!
Take time to relax and try to notice how you really feel, record your training and take notice when you are overloading the body. Rest and relaxation actually make you stronger!
Food for thought!