Rest and Recovery

“Men seek rest in a struggle against difficulties; and when they have conquered these, rest becomes insufferable.”
 Blaise PascalPensées

Summer is here! And for me, a teacher, along with summer comes more opportunity for training. But more time for training means that I need more time for recovery. UGH! For some reason, I have just enough time for running and strength training, but never any time for proper recovery. It's just a fact: when we neglect proper recovery, we are setting ourselves up for injury. I have a bad habit of not stretching, resting, or rolling until I'm injured and forced to make time for it. So, this post is an admonishment for myself and hopefully a reminder to you to treat your recovery with the same importance as your training. It IS part of your training.
  • Stretching-- this is pretty much a no-brainer. If you had PE class as a child, then you've done some stretching. However, all stretching is not created equal. There are two main types: static and dynamic (or ballistic).  Dynamic stretching is what you should be doing to warm-up and ease yourself into a training session. Dynamic stretching is "stretching" with movement. Static stretching is the stretch and hold moves that should only be done after muscles have been worked, at the end of your workout. 
  • Foam Rolling--sounds nice, right? It's been said that if you're not screaming in pain while you are foam rolling, then you're not doing it right. Can't wait to try it, can you? There are various types of foam rollers and various techniques to using them. You can also use a lacrosse or tennis ball, a fat piece of pvc pipe, your grandmother's rolling pin, the corner of a doorway (yes, I have been known to massage out a knot in my back bear style). I've found foam rolling to be pretty intuitive: roll the muscle and when you feel a painful knot, keep rolling it until if feels better. But here's a video from Livestrong Woman that does a great job of explaining the process: 
  • Yoga--I confess. I once giggled and scoffed at yoga and those who practice. I think it's the whole "one with the universe" zen thing. Actually, it was more that my total lack of coordination, balance and flexibility would reduce me to a pile of laughter on the floor, all the while the yogi would calmly be talking about breathing in fire and strength from the sun (or something like that). I also had a complete misunderstanding of just how intense it can be! I now have 3 yoga dvd's that I use: Jillian Michaels' Yoga Meltdown, Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior, and the P90X "Yoga X." (Please forgive me yoga lovers, I know these aren't examples of the true yoga practice.) I like Jillian's dvd because she seems to be as uncoordinated as I am and visibly (or as the camera strategically cuts away) bobbles and holds shaky poses; however, I've mostly moved away from hers because it's more focused on strength, less on relaxation. Bob's (I really can't take the title seriously) is pretty intense and again more focused on strength. My favorite is the Yoga X because it contains strength, balance and relaxing poses. **I am on the hunt for a good relaxing dvd that I can use on rest days to complement my strength training, so please recommend one!
  • X Stretch-- I'm giving this one a category of its own. At a full hour long, this dvd from the P90X series is a stand alone "workout." It's great for an active rest day because there is a fair amount of movement, but it provides stretches from head to toe. You just have to get past Tony Horton's sometimes funny, sometimes annoying and always cheesy commentary.
Aside from those workout type additions you can make to help aid recovery-- it's vital that you SLEEP and eat whole foods! Training tears the muscles down; to make gains in strength and speed, you need sleep so that your body can build itself back up! Whole foods, including the proper amount of protein for your weight and activity levels will help you get the right balance of nutrients to assist in that rebuilding process. 

What did I forget? Do you have a favorite recovery routine?


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