Now that you have moved your total training volume higher and your training frequency is higher, you may be wondering, “How do I recover from the increased workload?” The answer is simple; you rest. First of all, you know that you should wave the intensity (a percentage of your maximum effort) to avoid over training. Also, by keeping your workout time under 1 hour, you avoid wearing yourself down. You may think that taking time off, or total cessation of activity, is the best answer. This may be the case if you are injured, but more than likely you will lose 10% off your best effort for each week of inactivity. This will vary with each individual, but you can’t be the best if you are not practicing to be your best.
So what do you do if you’re healthy and don’t want to miss any training sessions? How do you rest but keep on going? There are a few things you can do: icing, massaging, resting, stretching, contrast methods, and paying better attention to your nutritional intake will all aid in feeling better.


The use of ice can aid dramatically in recovery by reducing inflammation on any part of your body. The best time to ice is after your workout or the first sign of injury. If you ice aggressively at this time you have a much better chance of healing and your body recovering faster. An example of aggressive icing is 3 times per day for 20 minutes per session. This should be done for the first 72 hours after symptoms occur. If you wait 72 hours after you’re hurt, you may be nursing that problem area for two or more weeks.

Frequent exercisers may want to keep ice in their freezer. Put ice in two 1-quart Ziplock freezer bags. This will prevent leaking as the ice sits on your body. You can also use the frozen liner packets that go into a cooler. To prevent freezing the skin while icing, place a towel between your skin and the ice. For those that do not have the time to devote to icing, buy a neoprene sleeve at a pharmacy and use this to hold the ice in place while on the go. Also, direct ice to the skin in a circular massage can relieve inflammation in less time.


Restoration doesn’t have to be just in the form of ice. Ask those that train similar to you for a reference on a massage therapist. See if they fit into your schedule and budget. Visiting a massage therapist twice a month could do wonders in relieving chronically sore areas of your body. A note on chronically sore areas: this may be your weakest area of the body and needs to be strengthened. Restoration for this area could be most important.


Another important, but often overlooked aid to recovery, is rest. This could be in the form of sleep, power naps, or just getting off your feet into a sitting position. Start with an average of 8 hours sleep. Those people that sleep only 6 hours per night will laugh at this statement, but those are the ones that need the most sleep when trying to stick to an exercise program. The goal would then be to shoot for 7 hours.
With 8 hours being an average amount of sleep, figure out whether you need more or less to feel better throughout the day. One way to tell if you are not getting enough recovery time is an elevated morning heart rate. Plus 5 beats per minute above your normal pulse is not a good sign and would indicate the need for restorative measures. Some European coaches suggest an extra hour of sleep for each hour of training. Those that cannot get the sleep at night may try a siesta. Lying down for 15 minutes in a horizontal position while in a relaxed state can help. This is suited for those that don’t like the groggy feeling of waking up. Other restorative methods may be better suited for you, but if you’re training hard, you may want to give this a try. Use pillows to elevate body parts, listen to relaxing music, or visualize a successful performance, at any activity, while lying down. Set a timer in case you fall asleep. This is a powerful tool that can make you feel better the rest of the day and more importantly aid your workout progress.

Next month I will address stretching, nutritional intake, supplementation, and the use of contrast methods that will also help your training and overall well being. As always, consult a doctor before following any of the above methods to determine the precise method that would best serve you.