Can you take a day off and really rest? Or is your mind constantly driving you to move, exercise and think about what MORE you could do? You are not alone!
If you are training religiously and you’ve hit a plateau in your training, there is a change you are not resting enough. You might even know it but you don’t do it. In this episdoe I share with you different insights why you are restless and what to do about it.
If you don’t rest enough, you will:
- stay consistent
- focus on your training and mental tasks
unable to improve your physical performance
eventually burn out or overtrain
Even though we often know that rest is necessary for our bodies to improve, our minds can play tricks on us. When you run, lift weights, or do cardio conditioning workouts, you feel you do something to improve because you can feel it. But you might not feel you are improving while you resting.
That mindset of always doing something that feels hard will lead you to suboptimal results because as the fatigue from daily workouts compounds, you will feel more tired from your training, but your ability to produce work will decrease.
Based on that, wouldn’t it be better not to judge the quality of your training based on how tired you feel and rather take other performance metrics into account?
What is the grey zone?
It is the zone somewhere in the middle – or a cofort zone.
Staying in the grey zone is one of those things that can go unnoticed. It is dangerous because when you are tired, you might feel the work you do is hard, but that is just your subjective feeling.
In strength training, staying in the grey zone means you are not increasing weights (or overloading muscles in other ways).
In endurance training, it is in your middle aerobic zone.
In mental work, it is working for the sake of work.
When you are dieting to lose weight, you hit mental fatigue and find it hard to stick with the diet. The same applies to weight gain.
I experienced it at work when I would work 12 months a year, thinking I don’t need to go on a holiday. But after being forced to go on a holiday, I could feel a major difference. In training sometimes I feel like I could do one day more, but then I see my performance is worse than before.
All in all, you are just accumulating fatigue with little or no benefit.
When you are well-rested, you are able to push harder, go longer, focus better. Think about it as drawing an arrow. You need to first draw the bow back, and accumulate energy that will transform into forward movement of an arrow.
Therefore, it is essential to rest well, every day but also take time off to refresh your body and mind. Most of the processes needed for regeneration take place during sleep – memories are allocated in your brain and saved in the long-term memory, and growth hormone is secreted. Caffeine and alcohol impair the quality of sleep and thus recovery.
How to decide when to rest:
Plan your rest ahead – if you don’t know what’s coming next, you will not push yourself hard enough, conserving energy for the unknown. If you have workouts planned ahead, you will know when to push yourself hard and that after a hard push, comes well-deserved rest.
Explore different ways how you can rest your body and mind.
Assess how stressed you are daily, mentally and physically. You can track your resting HR or HRV, but also the quality of your sleep.
De-load from time to time – every good training schedule has deloads planned in. They allow your body to adapt. A typical deload week comes after 3-4 weeks of training, and the volume of trianing decreases by 30%, while intensity stays the same.
Resting does not mean not moving or doing nothing. Catch up with friends, reflect on what you have been doing, practice focusing on the current moment. Stretching and mobility workouts are great for active recovery.
Optimizing nutrition for recovery
After a demanding race or training, the body gets under a lot of stress. It is therefore advisable to start recovery as soon as possible by rehydrating and supplementing electrolytes, carbohydrates, and proteins.
The recommended ratio of carbohydrates to proteins is 3:1.
Hunger after training and racing
Not everyone feels hungry after exercise. However, this does not mean that you should skip your post workout recovery snack, specifically if your goal is to gain weight or performance, or if you feel huge hunger later. Having a small post workout snack will prevent huge hunger once the body calms down.
After a race like the Ultra Beast or a marathon, where you use a lot of your glycogen stores and burn thousands of calories, it’s normal for you to feel hungry even a day or two later. Don’t be afraid of hunger and don’t be afraid to eat.
Should you eat differently during your rest days?
Even if you’re resting the days after the race, that doesn’t mean you need to limit carbs, but it does not mean a green light to overeating either. Enjoy pancakes or cakes if you feel like having them.
However, such meals should not be reserved only after heavy training and racing, but be a part of your normal diet.
Pay attention to hydration and electrolytes.
You can get magnesium from bananas, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, and almonds.
Calcium from dairy products, fortified vegetable milk, and tofu and kale.
Potassium from bananas, avocados, legumes, cereals and potatoes, spinach.
Sodium from table salt, but it is also in all processed foods.
Good sources of fat for their content of Omega 3 are flax and chia seeds, salmon, mackerel. Omega 3s help to reduce muscle soreness.
When you read through the foods mentioned above, you will notice that they are rich sources of carbohydrates and some are also a source of protein.
Simply put, it could be summarized that the diet supporting regeneration is composed of nutritious legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy products or their enriched plant alternatives, and healthy fats in form of fish/seeds.
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