I’m not going to lie, I’m tired. I work six days a week well over 60 hours when I factor in commutes and extra time I spend on work or my own professional development when not at work. I am taking a 5 week online course to enhance my competence in exercise physiology. I consider training for upcoming endurance events a part time job due to the requirements to do it well (meal prep, getting to bed early, figuring out when I can fit workouts into my schedule). I’m also writing this following a week long trip for a conference in New Orleans where I presented twice in one day. Coupled with the heat, 12+ miles of walking to sight-see a few days, keeping up with workouts as I am two weeks out from a half marathon, and travel in general…exhausted might be a better descriptor at this present moment.
Why belabor on my current status of fatigue? Rest and recovery is perhaps the most important aspect to success in life and performance. And it is perhaps the hardest thing to protect or maintain, often becoming the first thing to get compromised in effort to do more. My coach and nutritionist both recently applauded me when I decided to sleep in rather than do my morning workout (I was able to make it up on a different day). My nutritionist applauded this, noting the difficulty for many athletes to listen to their bodies when they are saying “enough!” and instead try to keep pushing it further. It inspired me to write this post.
We athletes tend to have a certain personality type that drives us to want to succeed, to do more, to push our limits to extract optimum performance. There is research that shows the number of athletes who are overtraining and have insufficient rest is increasing (Kentta & Hassmen, 1998). When we overtrain, we are overreaching our resources if we do not adequately recover within a 72 hour period. Research has confirmed a link between critical sleep factors and how that then impacts cognitive processes and metabolic function (crucial for daily functioning but also for making quick decisions on the court or getting enough nutrients to fuel the workout properly). Various sleep factors can all negatively impact the restorative quality of our sleep states. For instance, we may restrict or deprive ourselves of sleep time in order to spend time with friends, finish homework, or get that extra workout in. If the room environment isn’t ideal (temperature isn’t ideal, bed that isn’t ours), it could cause poor sleep quality and disrupt the restorative sleep patterns we all need. Finally, and especially for our traveling athletes, jetlag or other disruptions to our circadian rhythms can throw a significant wrench in our rest and recovery game (Samuels, 2009).
As my personal examples above have hopefully hinted at, stressors aren’t limited to just what happens physically or around performance. Challenges with your work environment, in your interpersonal relationships, with your own health and well-being can all play a part in how well you are recovering from the daily grind, as I lovingly call it from time to time. The key is to be aware of your habits and patterns, to notice the slips or problem areas, and to train our perception of what it means to be a strong performer to include with the same vigor intentional discipline in how we approach getting recovery time.
So on that note, I am going to end this article here and go take a nap…
Our team at AWP is here to support you in that journey, personally or for your team as a whole. Reach out to any of our team members for a consult on how we can amplify your rest and recovery game!
Kennta, G. & Hassmen, P. (1998). Overtraining and recovery: A conceptual model. Sports Medicine, 26(1), 1-16.
Samuels, C. (2009). Sleep, recovery, and performance: The new frontier in high-performance athletes. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America, 20(1), 149-159.