Recovery: The Missing Link

recovery_nutrition_for_runnersRecovery:  The Missing Link

When someone is training, whether it be for an event or just to get in better shape, many hours are spent not only planning each days’ activities, but also in working towards a goal.  Most athletes spend most of their time making sure that they get enough training hours into each week.  A smaller number of athletes spend adequate time ensuring that their nutrition supports their training efforts (which is as equally important as the training itself).  However, very few athletes give enough attention and respect to one of the most important parts of training: Recovery.  Recovery is the glue that holds everything together.  Without this glue, areas in the body will gradually become dysfunctional and begin to fall apart.  Physical training, in any form, pushes the body to its limits.  This causes the body to breakdown as limits are surpassed and the athlete tries to make improvements; as muscles and other soft tissues are stressed, as in training, they essentially breakdown and cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers. After training, the body responds by building that tissue up stronger than before to support such efforts the next time.  This is how muscles become larger and performance is increased.  Now, what happens if you put your body through the same physical stress before it has had time to recover?  Essentially, you will be breaking down tissue that began the day at 90% instead of 100%.  This means that by the time you are done training you will have once again broken down the muscle tissue, but this time to a greater extent since you were not 100% at the start of training.  Now, the body is a remarkable machine that can adapt to many situations and learn to cope with many stresses.  By no means does this mean that you have to be 100% rested and fresh before each day of training.  However, if this scenario is repeated numerous times you can see how eventually the tissue will not be able to withstand the same levels of training.  Soon the tissue will be starting the days’ training at 20% and little work can be done before the tissue fails and injury occurs.  Recovery is a complex puzzle that requires more than just a little time off.  Understanding the importance of recovery and how to implement it correctly into your training plan will not only boost performance, but it will keep you active and injury free.  In my many years of clinical practice I have seen numerous athletes competing in a wide variety of recreational and professional sports.   Those who pay attention to the various parts of recovery almost always do better in competition.  There is a simple reason for this: improved recovery = an increased ability to train harder = better results!  In my opinion, the success rates of training programs hinge on the things done when you are not actually training!