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Recovery of the Fittest

My previous post introduced the concept that our ability to recover from a day’s stresses may have a tremendous impact on how long we live and the quality of our time on earth.

In this post, I want to suggest that you have a quick look at my notion that the fittest athletes are those who recover fastest. Therefore, to become a fit athlete, you must address your ability to recover, and the process of getting fit should also train your body to recover quickly.

So, really, it’s a set of notions that hold each other together. The idea first solidified in my brain while watching the Beijing Olympics last week. I’d forgotten that some events have many, many heats. That’s pretty tough if you’re a sprinter, but I thought it must be absolute murder for distance athletes. The same goes for the team events where there are several matches on the way to winning a medal. You also have to remember that this is just part of a wider, season-long period of competition.

Being a tennis fan, I was able to see how close the games are to the US Open and Wimbledon. Many players seemed tired, yet the winner of both the French Open and Wimbledon was there looking fresh as a daisy. How can you explain this? My answer is Rafa’s style of play is focused on endurance, grit, determination, etc. Therefore, his body has learnt to recover quickly because it’s had no choice. He doesn’t seem to take much time off, but then again, he also seems to understand the need for recovery, and I believe he plans his recovery as methodically as he does his training.

The rigours of grand slam play or the Premier League for footballers are such that the ability to recover between games spaced only a day or two apart can easily make the difference between playing well or getting injured. Even if you feel fine, if your body is slowly slipping into disrepair, it will only take a few games before injury strikes.

So, if you don’t focus on good recovery and adopt a lifestyle that promotes this, then you’ll find it difficult to be a top athlete. You can be good, but you won’t be the best. On the flip side, high-quality training will automatically promote your ability to recover, so you’ll be back to your best much sooner than when you were less fit. So it’s really about learning when you need rest and when you’ve had enough.

It really hit home when I heard that Usain Bolt emphasises recovery and relaxation in his schedule. In an interview with the BBC, he made it clear that he doesn’t like the stress and worry involved when he sees athletes overthink. He does his training in the morning and likes to spend the rest of his day doing other things. So he keeps up his motivation and keeps his mind clear. When competing, he likes to joke around. Only when he is under starters orders does he focus. That way he trains to be ready when necessary, all other times he’s always chilled out.

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