This may not be something you haven’t already heard, but I strongly believe that it needs to be addressed often…rest will improve your performance.
What this statement is referring to, is the fact that your body will have the ability to repair any damaged tissues from the actual training stress, and continue to get stronger, faster, etc. Too often we don’t allow our bodies enough time to “recover” and as a result plateau in our progression, or worse, end up getting sick/injured.
This article will shed some light as to how you can improve performance by adding in a few simple recovery ideas.
Sleep - this is the king of recovery. By getting efficient sleep our bodies and mind can function at its best. Taking a 20-30 min nap during the day, or adding an extra 30-60 min of sleep each night can make significant improvements to health and performance.
Foam Roll/Massage - muscles that are continuously worked and stressed need attention. Using a foam roll everyday for 5-10 min can increase blood flow keeping muscles elastic and less knotted up. Work the quads, calves, mid back, and IT- Bands everyday.
Stretch - Static stretching is most beneficial after a workout while the muscles are warm. Hold a stretch for 30-40 sec and repeat 2-3 times. Conversely, dynamic stretching is well suited prior to exercising; this will help increase body temperature, increase elasticity in muscles and increase the HR. This type of stretching involves moving through a movement (ie: lunge with a twist, downward dog/upward dog, or arm circles).
Cross-train - If you are a runner, going out for an easy bike ride can be helpful to let certain muscles rest while still being active using other muscles. This can also help with one’s mental fitness as well. The key to cross training is to keep the intensity low so as to increase blood flow but not exert stress, remember this is to help “recover” not “train”.
When in doubt of training too much, always error on the lesser side and take a day off. Too often we thing we can't miss a day or our performance will dip. Quite the opposite it true, doing too much training will cause your performance to dip.
Focus on quality workouts and allow enough rest. The best advice I ever received from one of my cycling coaches was “train hard and rest harder”.