I am going to outline some of the little details involved in athletics that can make the difference between you and your competitors on race day. The truth is that it comes down to doing the little things that will make you better than others and allow you to improve as fast as possible.
One obvious area that deserves to be looked at is recovery. the athlete that recovers the fastest is able to perform the highest training load consistently. Some aspects to look into so that you can speed up your recovery include Epsom salt baths, ice baths, plenty of sleep, hydration, eating properly, a strength routine, and timing naps appropriately. Obviously this is a lot of stuff to wrap our heads around.
lets start with the basics; sleep and a functional strength routine.
In order to properly recover the body needs plenty of rest. Sleep is the most critical time for your body to recover from the stresses placed upon it. For example, when I am in a high training load I find that I have to sleep far more than usual. When doing 13-14 hour weeks I am well rested with only 7 hours of sleep. When I increase my training load to 18-20 hours I find that I need 9 hours of sleep a night to fully recover. The overarching point is don't sacrifice sleep and if you cant find time to sleep you may need to reduce your training volume.
In addition to sleeping, taking naps is a great way to boost recovery. the trick with naps is to keep them less than an hour so that you don't throw off your circadian rhythm. Besides you get the essential Human growth hormone by merely falling asleep.
Creating a schedule that is consistent and allows you to optimize sleep, it is crucial to success. Find how much sleep you need and do not allow it to be cut short.
Secondly, many endurance athletes overlook the much needed strength program. Or they have a program but it is not optimal for their sport. America has been infiltrated with the Arnold Schwarzenegger mentality of body building. We believe that a program should include lifting lots of heavy weights and that it will cause us to bulk up. This is all completely wrong. A program can be designed that is used to create mobility, stability, and then to build strength on top of this. One reason I suspect that the injury rates of runners is so high is because they don't take time to build the base of stability and mobility. I will not outline a program here as that is not the main focus of this blog post but I advise you to look into a program that is not centered around the common theme of weight training. Lastly when going into the weight room check your pride at the door and make sure you are doing everything right without worrying about how much weight you are lifting or how "good you look."
Another critical component of your strength routine is to make sure that it includes lots of core exercises. The core connects the whole body and allows you to optimize the strength in each individual muscle allowing for optimal efficiency of body movement.
Stay tuned as I will be writing about more ways to recover fast and get the edge on your competitors.
My blog is a collection of topics including training, nutrition, sponsorships, and becoming the best man I can be. In addition, I write about my spiritual realizations that are intrinsic to the sport of triathlon.