Yes, there’s a difference.
I’ve been slowly falling in love with the sticker and button I’ve seen making the rounds on social media that shows a sleepy sloth and says “Naps before Laps”. I think it’s probably a joke made up by someone that love/hates the 27-in-5 or the paceline, but I view it more as a public service announcement than a joke.
Sometimes you have to prioritize naps before laps.
Most of us dive head first into cross training programs. In fact, I’ve talked a lot about WHEN you should cross train and WHEN you should practice. But not much about how to schedule things outside of cross training.
This is pretty standard in a lot of programs. You vaguely gesture towards the rest days and decree, “Those are for rest! (Or something…)”
But what does that mean?
If you’ve been following a program for a month or two, it’s time to review your schedule. Rest and recovery might be the most important things you can put into your schedule that aren’t there now.
But “rest and recovery” aren’t just something that you write into your calendar and decide about when you get there. And “rest and recovery” aren’t one thing — they’re two distinct things.
- REST! This is basically when you sleep and how you spend your time when you’re not training. Just because there isn’t a lot of explanation to go with it doesn’t mean it’s not important. Your body not only repairs your muscles (and other systems) while you sleep, your brain also makes sense of motor skills during sleep. Particularly important for a complex skill sport like roller derby, right?
- So when you’re REALLY dragging, sleep (naps!) is a quick way to boost your energy. Sometimes that means napping instead of training. You know what they say, “nap today and make it to practice tomorrow”. (Okay, just I say that.)
- RECOVERY! This is everything you do to aid your body’s repair whether that’s from stressful days at work, tough practices, or brutal cross training routines. There are multiple systems in our body that benefit from specific attention to help aid recovery, so a lot of things can fall into this category.
- Proper hydration and nutrition that give your body the fuel it needs to recover appropriately and quickly.
- Posture (believe it or not). Stresses like hunching over a computer screen or sitting all day can cause unwanted changes to your body. Fixing your posture can go a long way towards helping speedy overall recovery.
- Stretching and self myofascial release (like foam rolling). This focuses specifically on the muscles and ways to assist in helping your body remain flexible and mobile. This isn’t only great for derby, but also for life.
If cross training, practice, rest, and recovery are a hierarchy, REST COMES FIRST.
Prioritize sleep as much as you can. Then, when you’re looking over your schedule or getting ready to embark on a cross training workout or a practice, decide how you’ll adjust if you’re too tired or haven’t been getting enough sleep.
Recovery should come on all the days that you aren’t cross training. It doesn’t have to be constant foam rolling or yoga, here are some ideas to incorporate on your non-crossing days:
- Leisure Walking — 30 minutes. Try to get outside, if you can. It doesn’t to be a death march, but it’s not a slow stroll either. Walking reduces stress, too. BONUS!
- Light Weight Lifting — At least 30% less than what you’re currently lifting and stop well before failure. This option is great because it takes your muscles through a similar range or motion and continues to work the movement pattern/form.
- Hiking — Same as leisure walking, but with a little more “Umph!“. Pick a moderate or easy trail, though. You’re trying to recover, not beat yourself up.
- Swimming — Gentle on the joints, thanks to buoyancy, and works all the muscles. Again, take it easy. This is recovery we’re talking about.
Mix these up amongst your training days to get the full gamut of recovery benefits. If you hate the water, you don’t HAVE to swim. But you shouldn’t always be doing “light weights” either.
Cross training fits in only when you’re well-rested, well-recovered, and making the required number of practices.
Just like with everything else in #intelligentcrosstraining, keep the end game in mind (a healthy you) and adjust as you go. If you nap instead of cross training, it’s probably because you needed it. Don’t beat yourself up and get back to it tomorrow!
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