The Importance of recovery/rest. Understanding that the stress of exercise and daily life are cumulative and can affect the training response

You’ve been training hard and have been adhering to your SUF plan but you are not feeling quite right. You are having trouble hitting your numbers in your key workouts.Your perceived exertion is high and heart rate is low. Your legs are sluggish. What should you do? Work harder? Just “suck it up buttercup”? In reality the answer is most likely, you need more recovery.

Recovery and rest in any training plan are the keys to improving fitness and performance. After a period of overload, the body’s ability to adapt and grow stronger is facilitated by a period of adequate deloading. How much recovery do you need to absorb all the hard training? The answer is highly individualized and is based on factors such as:

Nutrition
Sleep
Age
Hydration status
Fitness level
Health status
Stress levels

A training plan can look great on paper with adequate recovery built in, but it doesn’t know you and your lifestyle. You can be doing all the right things, getting 7-9hrs of sleep per night, proper nutrition, getting plenty of fluids and electrolytes, consistent training and in great health and still have trouble with hitting your training numbers and feeling strong. The reason might be excess stress. You cannot compartmentalize the stress of training and the stress of daily life. They are cumulative. Your body does not distinguish the difference between the stress of training and the stress of life’s daily hassles and demands. Improving recovery by utilizing stress management tools and supplemental recovery aids can help, such as:

Meditation/relaxation
Massage therapy
Easy exercise (extra recovery)
Humor/Laughing
Deep breathing
Yoga
Compression devices
cool/warm contrast baths

If you are going through a period of increased stress, adding more recovery into your training plan may help. Don’t be afraid to go from a 3 weeks on/ 1 week recovery plan to a 2 on/1 off. You may actually improve more by doing so. Here are a few ways to objectively and subjectively measure your recovery by tracking:

Sleep patterns
Morning resting heart rate (RHR)
Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
POMS 2 (Profile of Mood States)

Keep in mind that your training should fit into your life not the other way around. We are all in this to be as fit and healthy as possible.
What do you do to keep your stress levels in check to maximize your recovery?

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Excellent reminder !! Thank you sir @Coach.Spencer.R

Rob,
Wish I had read this 30 years ago…I just had the old “Eddie B” for cycling fitness and the Navy.
I have implemented as much as I can on what you wrote about into my routine. What a huge difference doing real recovery is. I have added recovery and active recovery to my routine. Daily, I have been doing Abi Carver Yoga and I have finally gotten a better sleep schedule. These little things like 15 minutes of yoga and going to bed at a descent hour (not binging Amazon prime), Huge improvement not only in Sufferlandria but my Daily Health
:facepunch::volcano::t_rex::muscle:

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This remains the single biggest ‘alert’ for me after doing this stuff for a couple of years now - and it’s why i like having HR on the screen for workouts to help me be objective as well as how I ‘feel (RPE)’. Doing something about it is often hard, but it does work (listening to oneself)

HRV is one thing I’ve been keen on for a year, though I’m having real trouble trusting it on an iPhone use HRV4training. Sill looking for that elusive, easy to use, reliable(consistent) HRV monitoring device

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Hey Sir Martin,
Great points! We cannot dismiss the importance of the subjective aspect of training/recovery. And you’re spot on with the difficulty in listening to oneself. It’s hard to be your own coach
Also, the quality of HRV tools definitely vary from between brands.

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SIrShrek,
Thanks for the comments. It’s really amazing to see how a few minor changes in one’s life can make huge differences. Congrats on making those improvements. Keep up the good work!!!

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Question regarding active recovery, can we add a recovery ride to the plan as we wish? For example on the day that the plan has nothing on or on the day that feeling stiff.

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Sure, that’s exactly what the No Vid Recovery workout is designed for.

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So often, I screw up recovery weeks. I do well for the first few days and then - as I’m feeling good - I start over cooking the easy rides. I go just a bit harder or longer than I’m supposed to. Without fail, the next week ends up being a struggle to hit targets. I really need to be more disciplined and treat recovery as important as workouts.

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That is me to a “T”. This 2020 ToS, I followed the Post Plan…WOW. But it is so HARD NOT TO SUFFER​:rofl::volcano: My new 4DP numbers, say something else :+1::t_rex::+1:

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This is actually going to be the title of my autobiography!

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This is great information! I sometimes forget to work my training around my life. Things are very busy with work and two toddlers.

Thanks for the reminder!

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I find I often mistake recovery with doing nothing and eating everything I can see. Which is simultaneously bad for my mindset and my training. Habits of recovery like eating well and treating rest as being kind to the body are harder for me to establish than training hard. Hey ho. Live and learn - repeat.

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@ArcticJohnKoS So true. Mixing up recovery days with rest days is a big issue for me. Sometimes I feel bad if I ride on a recovery day even if it’s an easy one. Then I have to actively remind myself that a recovery ride is way better than doing nothing. True rest days, those days when you do absolutely nothing, are rather rare and I think you will know intuitively when you need them (or your body lets you know). So I guess what I want to say is that currently I keep riding (even if it’s <100watts) and only refrain from riding when my body clearly tells me not to. I just feel too bad not doing anything. Having said this, I hope I will learn one day not to feel bad on days when I am not riding. Any tips?

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I struggle following a plan because most of the time life doesn’t allow 2 or 3 weeks on with 1 week off. With 2 young kids, I often spend 2 or 3 days without riding.

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I recently switched from 3:1 to 2:1. I was getting midway through that third week and not knowing if I would be able to finish the week. Now I’m struggling with my recovery weeks—getting to Wednesday or Thursday and ramping back up. My numbers have been stagnant over the last couple of cycles and I suspect my (lack of) recovery is the reason. Hoping to do better this next time around.

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I was exactly the same. At 50-yo, that 3:1 was just taking too much to recover from. Mentally, I also find 2:1 much, much easier to handle.

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Might I suggest using your own name in your autobiography Sir @Cody.Moore :wink:

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Thanks for the post Sir @Coach.Spencer.R! As for keeping stress levels in check, one thing I have been doing consistently for the better part of a year and a half is spending at least a few minutes each day simply acknowledging the emotional impact that my life’s stresses have on me. It could be something as small as having to go to the grocery store (in the time of CoVid) to the daily stresses of navigating a family and the seemingly good stress of planning for, and nearing a major goal/event. I have found that ignoring the emotional impact (stuffing it down or attempting to minimize it) will, in my case anyway, lead to lower back pain/spasm that historically has laid me up for weeks at a time. Since doing this, I have not had a recurrence when in the past it would happen 2-3 times every year. It’s great to have a loving and understanding partner to bounce all of this emotional stuff off of as well. I’m very fortunate.

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I also have to immensely remind myself that recovery is essential. This spring I have had a lot of time on my hands, and as such, been training quite a lot. Not using a set program but going by feel, I now have 9 weeks of pretty intense work behind me, and as such, should probably have included one (or several) rest weeks, have been feeling quite strong until 3 consecutive hard days of long Vo2 max level intervals, which left me feeling quite cooked for some days and now having a rest week.

I have however raised my 20-min max from 285 to 335 W this year, and thus I attributed lower heart rates when training to simply improved form. How would one distinguish improved form and fatigue over long periods of time?

Attached is the workload mentioned, weekly total time around 14 hours.

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