As you have more than likely figured out by now, I’m quite focused on recovery this past few days. My last three posts have been on this topic. It’s the one area that I have found athletes understand the least about and where they make the greatest errors in their training. Most don’t fully comprehend how important recovery is for performance. So here are some more thoughts on the subject.
Last June I posted a blog here about Darren Smith, an Aussie coach, who works with elite triathletes, mostly ITU World Cup competitors. In that blog I mentioned Darren’s use of what he calls “recovery on demand.” In that post I mentioned how this is really the best way to determine when an athlete should recover, both short term and long term. Short term means that an occasional easy training day may be necessary. Darren would determine that by having a conversation with the athlete each morning. With the personal data he collects on the athlete over the course of a few days he can determine if an extended break from training may be appropriate. Training resumes when he has determined that the athlete is adequately recovered. This is along the lines of what I explained in yesterday's post.
All of this reminds me of a presentation I went to almost 20 years ago. The Berlin wall had been down for some time by that point and Communist government of East Germany was gone. A former director of their Olympic sport program was visiting Fort Collins, Colorado, where I lived at the time, and was invited to speak at the local sports medicine clinic. Other than the use of performance enhancing drugs, which he “suggested” was done, he said that their success in the Olympics was due to the environment that was common for many East German athletes. Most lived in dorms where their sleep, nutrition, access to coaches and much more made for a very sport-focused lifestyle. He said that every day a coach or group of sports professionals would meet individually with athletes and decide what they should do that day. He believed this was the single most important thing they did from a coaching perspective to produce world class athletes. This is Darren’s recovery on demand.
As a serious athlete this is a great tool if you if you have the self-awareness and self-control to make a decision every morning about what you should do in training relative to what you have planned. Unfortunately, athletes tend to believe that more is better and that if they rest they are losing ground to their competition. That’s why most athletes are better off having a coach, such as Darren, who knows what he or she is doing and can provide guidance. The second best option is to use TrainingPeaks.com’s Performance Management Chart to help make decisions. I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, also. But realize that the PMC isn’t magic. You still have to learn what all of the data means and spend some time each day analyzing your current status. I’ll get into more detail on that in a future post. For now here’s a post from a while back which will give you some insight into what I’m talking about here.