Re-post… Stress + Rest = Progress

With the sun setting on 2013 this week, many people will be setting New Year's resolutions.  In the health and fitness industry, we see a huge surge at the gym.  Masters swim programs, running and cycling groups all see an increase in activity and workout participation.  So, I thought it would be a good time to share the post form earlier in the year as a reminder to keep the balance with your training.  This will hopefully allow you to stay healthy which leads to consistency in training which leads to you reaching your goals for the 2014 year.

One of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly has a saying he calls “carefree timelessness”, such a simple yet powerful statement.  I drew the inspiration for this article on a training break as I spent the morning lazily wandering along a river taking pictures of my friends fly-fishing.  The landscape was stunning and as the morning progressed, large billowy clouds slowly formed on the mountaintops surrounding the valley.  The sound of the leaves rustling in the gentle breeze was both soothing and cooling and the thought of a nap crossed my mind on more than once occasion. 
From an athletic standpoint, we call this a recovery day or in some cases a recovery week.  It is just as important to schedule rest and recovery days, as it is the hard training days.  Rest is when the training adaptations occur and too much training without taking into account recovery, can lead to injury and burnout. Stress is the combination of workouts that challenge both your body and mind.  Rest comes in the form of easy training days or complete days off from exercise.  Progress is made when you have the optimum balance of stress and rest. This balance will be different for every individual.
When setting up a training plan for an athlete, balancing the stress and rest of training is a top priority.  First and foremost is the age of the athlete.  Let’s face it; we just don’t bounce back like we did when we were kids.  That said the adult athlete can still perform at a very high levels of intensity, but is just takes longer to recovery from those efforts.  Other things to be considered are current level of fitness, number of years in the sport, past or present injuries, demands of job, family obligations and how much can they train versus how much they are willing to train.
But, what if you’re not training for an event?  What can you do to add a little rest and recovery into your day?  Try taking time to check in with yourself, hitting the reset button and putting the fast paced world on hold.  It does not have to be a long period of time by any means even five minutes will do.   Some people find mornings are best to check in and set your intentions before beginning the day.  Others may find a mid-day break is just what they need before diving back into the afternoon to do list. Or maybe you prefer some quiet time in the evening to unwind and decompress from it all. 
Really it can be pretty much anytime that works for you.  One of my colleagues, Cris Dobrosielski, has a saying that I really like, “small consistent change, over a significant period of time, leads to monumental results”.  Five minutes may not seem like a lot, but it can have a big impact over time if you are consistent.  So, keep searching to find your optimum balance, not only sport, but in everything you do in life.
Best of luck in all you set out to do in 2014 and Happy New Year!
Coach Eric


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