Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Recovery of the Fittest

My previous post introduced the concept that our ability to recover from a days stresses may have a tremendous impact on how long we live and the quality of our time on earth.

In this post I want to suggest have a quick look at a notion I have that the fittest athletes around are those who recover fastest. Therefore to become a fit athlete you must address your ability to recover but also that the process of getting fit should also train your body to recover quickly.

So really it's a set of notions that hold each other together. The idea first solidified in my brain while watching the Beijing Olympics last week. I'd forgotten that some many events have many many heats. That's pretty tough if you're a sprinter but I thought it must be absolute murder for the distance athletes. The same goes for the team events where there are several matches on the way to winning a medal. You also have to remember that this is just part of a wider season long period of competition.

Being a tennis fan it was evident how close the games are to the US Open and Wimbledon. Many players seemed tired yet the winner of both the French open and Wimbledon was there looking fresh as a daisy. How can you explain this? My answer, Rafa's style of play is focused on endurance, grit determination etc. Therefore his body has learnt to recover quickly because it's had no choice. He doesn't seem to take much time off but then again he also seems to understand the need for recovery and I believe he plans his recovery as methodically as he does his training.

the riogurs of granslam play or that of the premier league for footballers are such that the ability to recover between games spaced only a day or two apart can easily make the difference between playing well or getting injured. Even if you feel fine, if your body is slowly slipping into disrepair then it will only trake a few games before injury strikes.

So basically if you don't focus on good recovery and adopt a lifestyle that promotes this then you'll find it difficult to be a really top athlete. You can be good but you won't be the best. On the flipside, high quality training will automatically promote your ability to recover so you'll be bakc to your best much sooner than when you were less fit. So it's really about learning when you need rest and when you've had enough.

It really hit home when I heard that Usain Bolt emphasises recovery and relaxation in his schedule. In an interview with the BBC he made it clear that he doesn't like the stress and worry involved when he sees athletes over think. He does his training in the morning and likes to spend the rest of his day doing other things. So he keep up his motivation and keeps his mind clear. When competing he likes to joke around. Only when he is under starters orders does he focus. That way he trains to be ready when necessary, all other times he's always chilled out.
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