‘You can turn the mundane parts of your work schedule into a positive by re-labelling work time as ‘recovery time’
By Anthony Walsh, Head Coach at A1 Coaching
Often the major influence on a rider’s performance is not talent, but available training hours. If your training time is limited and you can’t get 10 hours or more per week training logged, there is a solution.
You can turn the mundane parts of your work schedule into a positive by re-labelling work time as ‘recovery time’. Training hours allow for the possibility of increased fitness levels. But that improvement is only realised when accompanied with proper recovery.
Although recovery is important for all athletes, full time workers need to place an increased emphasis on it. The training system we are advocating (low volume, high intensity) is predicated upon good recovery. This is one of the ways we’ll make huge gains on those who are attempting to pack high volume into an already busy life schedule.
There are a number of recovery strategies, which we’ll look, to utilise – stretching, foam rolling, and massage. Try to incorporate these simple exercises into your daily routine – we have hand outs and material to download on all these as part of this series we are running.
Another important area, which should be to the forefront of any riders mind, is nutrition. This is also something we can focus on while working. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body in response to stress. Our brain is unable to distinguish between different forms of stress.
Physical stress (training), mental stress (work) and dietary stress (nutrition) combine to form our weekly stress allowance. If we exceed this allowance our bodies react to slow us down through sickness and injury. The goal for any athlete is to effectively manage this weekly stress volume.
Nutritional stress compromises our recovery by affecting sleep quality. For optimum recovery, a deep sleep known as the ‘delta phase’ must be achieved. When our cortisol level is elevated, delta is more difficult to accomplish.
Some stresses are necessary – positive stressors. We need physical stress in order to progress our fitness levels and we need to work (mental stress) to provide for ourselves and our families. However, other stressors can be labelled as ‘negative’. They bring us closer to our weekly stress allowance without any appreciable benefit – nutritional stress is one of these.
Refined, processed foods are high in calories but nutritionally void. This is the reason why after we eat at McDonalds we are hungry only a couple of hours later despite ingesting our daily caloric intake.
Weight gain is common when eating low net-gain foods. It’s important to be mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. A glance at the label of any commercial recovery drink or sports bar reveals a list you will hardly be able to pronounce. These are not real foods.
It’s possible to get all the benefits associated with these products for a fraction of the cost and without ingesting an array of unknown substances into our bodies. Look to utilise home-made fruit smoothies with nuts and hemp as a recovery drink. And substitute sports bars with dates, bananas or similar high glycemic index fruits while on the bike.
We should be cautious not to get lost pursuing ‘marginal gains’ and ignore the huge performance benefits attainable through recovery. By focusing on including stretching and foam rolling in our daily routines and adding more fresh fruit and veg into our diet we will lower our weekly nutritional stress.
This will give us greater scope to train harder and recover faster.
Even if your hours are full during weekdays with work or college, we can be focussed on nutrition and recovery during that period and become better riders as meet our other commitments in life.
Embrace the intensity revolution.