Train. Sleep. Eat. Repeat. Recover?
Train, Eat (to 80% full), Work, Sleep (8 hours if you’ve got that mad talent!), Repeat.
But where do we fit that elusive and abstract buzz word ‘recovery’ – especially when we’re busy actually ‘doing’ all the activities? Shouldn’t they be more important anyway? Isn’t it easier to just keep pushing yourself for more until you fall into bed. Sure, if you can handle higher volume, you must be getting fitter, right? (First F ticked!) But, what if you want to get Faster and Stronger too? (oh hi obnoxious life balance) That’s where the whole quality vs quantity comes in – and how on earth do you know how to accurately balance that equation without having a PHD in exercise physiology?
The Importance of Recovery
Recovery for Performance
Anyone who is either a super nerd or ridiculously passionate about improving their performance (or both - oh hi, I’m Jenni!) has read enough studies to know that the recovery phase is where your muscles grow. You need sleep to restore yourself and you need to balance your daily strain with your physical stress – and where you want to channel that for optimal performance. So, whether that’s growing an ass like J Lo, being able to do a pull up with the weight of a baby gorilla on your back, or being hitting every ruck on the pitch, you need to give your central nervous system some love to actually be able to recover.
Cool, so I want to do ALL the recovery now! But what does that mean!? So, if you haven’t jumped on board the Whoop train (Whoop whoop!) and you take your training seriously then you need to check it out; tangibly seeing how your body responds to the ridiculous demands you are asking of it might be what you need to take the time – or you mightn’t be so stubborn and be able to actually learn when you’ve had enough.
Personally, I’m horrible at sleeping. Reading before bed has been a game-changer and now I’m on a record average of over 6 ½ hours of sleep per night. Eating higher quality foods and enough carbs and protein is easy. But that’s only the easy part!
Yoga & Recovery
Teaching us to slow down
PN (Precision Nutrition) tells me to reward myself for achieving my goals. When you have to think about doing something nice for yourself though, that’s when recovery actually plays in. It may be more recovery for your mind. You don’t ALWAYS need to be competing with yourself and beating yourself for not being good enough or achieving where you think you should be. When you actually have to stop and think about doing something ‘good’ for your body, it can be quite a challenge.
We have all heard yoga is great for recovery, but it can be hard to justify when you feel like you could probably just do 20 minutes of stretching and save yourself the money.
However, “treat yo’self” plus growing up as a bit of a hippy child in California, I felt like I’d buy in a bit. I started with the Yoga For Sport classes with Fabby and loved her teaching approach. She gives a good balance of letting you "do you" and relax but also seeing where you could gently push and challenge yourself. It’s a nice balance of working out some of your tight areas, but also with the lovely calming atmosphere. Importantly, it also gives you an hour to disconnect from the world and demands of life and just listen to someone telling you what to do. It keeps the mind flowing and not going 100 miles a minute.
Essentially, Yoga is a bit of mindfulness for those of us with an overactive and overzealous brain!! And before you know it, you get to the savasana – which might be my favourite activity in the world now – where you just get to lie there with a blanket and someone tells you everything is going to be okay while you let your body get to the verge of falling asleep and ultimate tranquillity.
The Impact of Yoga on Recovery
After my first yoga class, I was pretty much converted. My body felt fine, I was relaxed but it wasn’t until I got home that I really reaped the benefits: my sleep that night was amazing.
Not only was it how the sleep felt but also how it improved my performance the next. When I woke up the next morning – after first falling asleep rather quickly (which is a win in itself) - and I processed my sleep on my Whoop and found it was not only in the green but 90% recovered with my HRV over 200 and my RHR at 37 (usually they float in about 130 and 40).
For those of you who don't yet 'speak Whoop', being in the green means you are well recovered and physically prepared to take on a high level of strain or training that day. Typically, the higher the heart rate variability (HRV) and the lower your resting heart rate (RHR) the better recovered you are. Now, this hasn’t happened every time I have done yoga now, but the trend is solid enough for me to be pretty convinced that Yoga is helping me recover faster!
“If the goal of your rest day is to boost recovery, then you actually have to take actions towards that, it’s not merely the inaction of skipping the gym.” – Kristen Holmes (Whoop VP of Performance)
Both Fabby’s Restorative Yoga and Jane’s Yin Yoga on Sunday evenings are magical! Not only is the set up in FFS Yoga Studio beautiful with the old Georgian setting, but the classes themselves are a lot more chilled than other yoga classes that I had been to before. They are more like a mental recovery and recenter class. The classes are much slower-paced, with slower stretches and breathing, rather than active stretching which is so relaxing and absolutely restorative; you feel like you are floating after it
Find out More
If you are interested in experiencing the benefits of Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga, FFS Gym's Yin and Restorative Yoga Classes will start back today, the 5th of January, 2020.
Sign up for one of FFS Yoga's 6pm Sunday evening classes in FFS Yoga Studio via the Mindbody app on Apple Store or Google Play for Android. You can also find out more info on the ffs.ie/yoga and sign up via the class schedule.
About the Author
Jenni has been a member of FFS Gyms for almost 3 years and holds the gym's female records for the most amount of chin ups and max weighted chin up.
She grew up in San Diego swimming and running cross country until she found sprint kayaking. When she was 17 she was invited To become a resident athlete at the US Olympic training centre and represented the US at 6 World Championships and 1 Pan American Games and winning a World Cup medal.
She moved to Ireland to be closer to her family and complete her masters at UCD Michael Smurfit School of business. She currently works for The British & Irish Lions and recently took up rugby now playing for Blackrock Rugby Club.
Find Jenni on Instagram at @jenni.b._