I have written a lot about the importance of recovery after training. But there is also another side to this. Not just the physical but the mental recovery after training is important too. Recovery whilst going through stress could cause you problems.
Getting fitter, faster or stronger does not happen whilst you are training. The improvements (or as the cool kids call it gains) come during the recovery afterwards. I have written about this previously here. So scientifically “Physical training imposes stress on the athlete’s neuro-biological system, thereby stimulating adaptation and promoting an improved resilience to similar forms of stress in the future”. The name for this is the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
Research has found that regular and repetitive exposure to seemingly minor everyday stressors or ‘daily hassles’ exerts a toll on psycho-physiological health. This could just be arguments at home or work. Or even watching people people in stressful situations, can all mount up and impact your “gains”.
Stress is stress
“More and more evidence suggests that stress is stress,”. John Kiely, Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire’s Elite Performance Institute for Coaching and Performance states. This means that whether it is lifting weights, some hard rolling at BJJ or your boss tightening a deadline. Your body will react in the same way . Your brain interprets your body’s reactions, elevated heart rate, shortened breathing etc to mean that you are ‘under threat’
“When athletes are subjected to elevated non-training stressors, physiological training adaptations will inevitably be compromised. This will occur regardless of the origin of that stress: whether it be anxiety due to loss of form, exam pressure, relationship turbulence, poor sleep, corrosive environmental conditions, etc.” States Kiely.
Optimise Your Recovery after Training
Your training doesn’t end with you stepping off the mats or doing your last rep. You still have to put the effort into making sure that your recovery, allows your body to make the most of what you have done.
As with anything planning is going to provide benefits. Don’t have key sessions on days when you are like to experience additional stress from else where. This could mean avoid these sessions on days that conflict with work deadlines, or the day when you have to play taxi to your children.
Have the courage to train easy when life is hard.
When it comes down to it you need to make sure your rest days are actually days you fully rest on. This doesn’t mean go shopping, DIY or everything else other than train. This can be really difficult, but if you don’t you defeat the purpose of the rest day, which is recovery. Being willing and able to adapt your training schedule is really important. Give yourself the ability adjust and evolve your training and recovery if life stress accumulates. “Stress is contagious,” according to Kiely, “so try to avoid high-stress people and high-stress situations after key sessions.”
The other important thing is that there is no one right way to recover. “At the end of the day, recovery is all about doing things that make you feel relaxed and at ease,” says Kiely. “For some this might mean skydiving or cramming for exams, but generally speaking, it means sleeping, reading, listening to music, watching a movie, or hanging out with friends—activities that you can do on a couch with your shoulders relaxed and heart rate low.
Sources Essay: A New Understanding of Stress and the Implications for Our Cultural Training Paradigm John Keily 2016