Train Hard – Recover Harder

Stress demands rest and rest supports stress

The over-arching key to sustainable performance is simplified using the growth equation:

Stress + rest = adapt/growth. It is a simple yet profound guide to structuring your days, weeks and years.

A bird’s-eye view of a training plan given by a coach will show the growth equation providing you with a bird’s-eye view to improving performance. It can’t be emphasised enough, working like this is key to a lifetime of sustainable improvement and success.

Great performers leave nothing to chance by designing each and every day to get the most out of themselves. So too can the rest of us.

In a society that glorifies grinding, short term gains and pushing to extremes, it takes guts to rest.

There are no shortcuts to places worth going. We need to be consistent with our training but also with our recovery. Burning the candle at both ends by over training and insufficient recovery results in burnout and increases the risk of injury and illness. When we are tired, our ability to train productively and think clearly is compromised. Fatigue can make cowards of us. We shouldn’t repeatedly demand more of our bodies than they can deliver! The key to diagnosing overtraining is knowing when fatigue at either end of the day has become excessive.

Training is a holism and certain aspects of an athletes lifestyle will contribute to overtraining.

In order to be good you have to train at a high level but you must also allow your body time to recover. You need to take time off, you need to run easy on some days.

Rest: give your body time and space to adapt to the training stress. You will start gaining more fitness and performing better than ever. Rest supports growth and adaptation. Rest will become as productive as additional training. We need to recover and rest properly in order to prevent injuries and maximize performance.

If we neglect rest and keep pushing, breakdown continues and eventually our health and performance suffer. But if we listen and allow the body to rest, it shifts from a catabolic (breakdown) state to an anabolic one, in which the body repairs and rebuilds so that it can come back stronger.

Sleeping is a catalyst for physical growth. Just as the brain is actively processing the work we’ve done throughout the day, when we sleep, the body is doing the same.

The best athletes in the world prioritise sleep. Sneaking in an extra hour of training at the expense of sleep is rarely a good idea.

We don’t grow when we are in the gym or logging miles on the road, we grow in our sleep. We can put in all the work in the world while we’re awake, but if we don’t sleep, much of it’s value is lost.

There are increasing marginal returns to sleep. Hours 7-9, the hours that the majority of us never get are actually the most powerful.

Extended breaks annually will keep us physically and psycholigically healthy over the years.

If we never take easy periods, we are never able to go full throttle and the hard periods end up being not that hard at all.

Unfortunately, we have lost the notion of smart work at the expense of hard work, which somehow almost always gets confused with more work.

Going through the motions.

A well timed rest day yields enormous dividends. Rest days allow you to recover from the accumulated stress of the recent past and revitalizes you so that you can push harder in the near future.

Hard work only becomes smart and sustainable work when it is supported by rest. Resting hard often takes more guts than working hard.

Recovery encompasses more than just muscle repair. It involves restoring your chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system, mental state and so much more. Don’t ignore your body when it needs to be rested.

We need to strategically insert longer periods of rest to follow longer periods of stress.

Don’t rush the process.

Athletic development and the prevention of injuries requires time and patience-do not cut corners.

Michelle Greaney 

MG Coaching

Athletics Ireland Certified Level 2 Endurance Coach

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