At the moment it’s that time of the year where I miss the feeling of competitions, and traveling to track classics. At the same time I do appreciate the off-season period of Athletics. Shortly after my return from Europe I had the chance to rest and recover from what was a long season. Previous seasons I’ve always abused the break and rest period, however this year I got quite bored and looked forward to coming back to training. As I listened and payed close attention to my body I made a decision to rest and focus my energy on other things. After all it will help me come back refreshed right… Yes, I was able to come back fresh and ready to roll into the next phase of training. If you’ve ever heard the phrase that “athletes are made in the off season,” it’s probably right.
The off-season for me, seems to be the toughest phase and time of the year, yet it is time do the base work, which we hope will keep us conditioned throughout the track season. This requires a lot of time in order to do it right. I believe one of the most important things to keep in mind during this period is recovery and rest. That is basically the process of ensuring you return back to a normal training load, whilst working hard and smart. Quality over quantity is a term I usually used to minimise my reps, however sometimes I’m mature enough to understand quality recovery, as a technique to maximise muscle repair and reduce muscle soreness is just as beneficial.
There are several different recovery techniques and methods that the majority of athletes apply to their day-to-day training and workouts. I think that’s the way it should be and if somewhere in your plan you’re not making time for these small things, it could cost you. Before we can go into some methods and my most useful techniques, it’s essential to break down the importance of recovery.
1. If we fail to recover and rest it could possibly lead to injury and decrease performance
2. Recovery improves performance and helps athletes maintain a quality- training program.
3. Recovery keeps the sport interesting increasing desire to train.
While there are several ways we can keep our bodies in good form, the most important things are getting the right sleep and nutrition. I tend to average about 8 hours a night of sleep. In the past nutrition was my weak point, however I’ve started to make huge improvements. The benefits you could start noticing and ability to train well are relatively high. While Perth tends to be quite hot, hydration has always played a big part. Other things to keep in mind are stretching whether it’s for 5 minutes or longer. This does help a lot to get rid of post workout soreness. Here are some recovery tools I’ve used and continue to use today, which I highly recommend.
I can almost guarantee that majority of athletes have a foam roller somewhere in place. Whether people use it enough or not is another story. Foam rollers are one of the best tools and can be used to target different types of muscles, which can lead to increasing flexibility, massage sore/overworked muscles and prevent injury. These factors are all important when it comes time to running fast and efficiently. Keep in mind; I have only really started using the foam roller this year after a friend recommended it. Twice a day has been a painful routine but a beneficial one. I tend to notice differences quite quickly and the ability to recover for the next training session has worked in my favour.
Picture: A pretty typical make-shift ice bath for accesible recover. The recovery bin.
I’m not a big fan of cold water or weather in general, however I do force myself to have an ice bath once a week. Generally I hop in right after a speed and strength session or during my day of training.
Massage Stick & Spiky ball
The massage stick has been linked to having numerous benefits. These include decreasing muscle pain; preventing muscle injury, releasing muscle tension and also improving flexibility. I probably don’t go anywhere without the stick being close by and it often receives some interesting looks. With the spiky ballI usually use this tool to massage my calves. I find that all the other massage tools don’t work as well as the spikey ball when it comes to massaging the calves.
Enjoy training whilst practicing the proper methods and performing the right techniques. Do this to maintain or even improve your health and conditioning in the off-season. In turn you’re doing everything you can to be your best come track season.