"Individual workouts will rarely be perceived as exceptionally difficult or bordering on impossible. It will be a challenge to perfor...



"Individual workouts will rarely be perceived as exceptionally difficult or bordering on impossible. It will be a challenge to perform day after day..." - The Wolverine Plan

At some point during my training, I crossed a threshold—the point where I was no longer limited by my fitness but by my ability to recovery between workout sessions. This never happened in college, perhaps because our coaches were clever enough to keep our training volume relatively low to account for our otherwise hectic lives. It only happened when I began to train for 3-4 hours a day, week after week, month after month.

Eventually, as the quote above explains, rowing for 20 kilometers didn't seem like a particular challenge. The challenge was then spending 90 minutes lifting weights in the afternoon, just to come back and do another 20 kilometers the next day.

And that is why, although I spend only 3-4 hours a day with my heart rate in the training zone, I spend more than 40 hours a week training. My days between workouts are filled with stretching, ice baths, extra sleep, good nutrition, meditation, education and more.

This article covers the basics of post-workout recovery, including a 10-step protocol for recovery taking 3-4 hours, including a 1-2 hour nap. I find that incorporating all 10 steps daily is not realistic for me, especially not twice daily. Instead, I try to do more of these on the days when I have particularly tough training sessions.

For example, after a 10K run and 90 minute endurance weight session, I will take an ice bath while drinking a smoothie immediately after training, followed by 30 minutes of stretching. This prepares me to perform better on an afternoon training session that I may have otherwise been too fatigued to execute well.

There is also some science that shows certain foods aid recovery, like tart cherry juice. On particularly tough weeks, when I need to get extra calories anyways, sometimes I add these types of foods to my diet.

Finally, I make sure to under-schedule myself. I've found that I can commit to no more than one additional activity per day—going grocery shopping, dentist appointment, weeding the garden, running laundry. It's frustrating at times, feeling like I should be able to go out and have lunch with friends or take advantage of all the great activities. But ultimately, those things will directly affect my training and my success, so I've learned to limit myself.

Recovery isn't only a daily task, though. Each training season and year should have recovery periods built in as well. This may be the week or two you take off after running a marathon, followed by a month of unstructured easy running. Or it might be specifically scheduled volume reduction provided by a training plan. A lot of scholastic athletes get this break during the summer season, when, even those with the best of intentions, tend to slack off on their training a bit.

Our training schedule at CRC emphasizes not only periods of decreased volume but periods with lots of cross-training—from erging to hiking and biking to beach golf, we use these months as an opportunity to refresh our brains and our bodies while maintaining and even increasing fitness. When we come back, we've had a month or so to forget our bad rowing habits, which makes for some big technical gains in the first weeks back.

For clubs where the water freezes in winter, this is almost an automatic procedure. At CRC we've had to plan the rest period into our training schedule, which allows us some flexibility. This year, I'll be taking my off-water season travelling up to Oregon and cross country to Connecticut. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to break the routine!

What are your tricks for recovering between hard workouts? What do you sacrifice for your fitness?

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