Concept X: “The Training Balance”
Training consists of both exercise and recovery. We often don't consider recovery as part of training because it just happens. Or does it? You may train 1 or 2 hours a day but the next 22 to 23 hours may have considerable influence on the quality of your next workout. Recovery is enhanced by, good nutrition, relaxation, perhaps some easy stretching, and a good night's sleep.
Training is a balance of work and recovery. Work involves applying a force over a distance (work=force x distance) such as paddling a canoe or kayak. Recovery is a combination of rest and nutrition and it allows you to apply more force to do more work the day after a hard workout. These three components, work, rest, and nutrition, comprise the " total athlete," at least on a physical level. If one element is neglected you will fall short of your performance potential.
Physiology: Training occurs when the body adapts to a workload. The body doesn't get stronger during exercise, but rather, it develops afterwards during recovery. Recovery after strenuous work enhances fitness by:
Repairing muscle and connective tissue
Restoring metabolic enzymes (that make energy conversion possible)
Replenishing carbohydrates (readily usable energy source)
Normalizing nervous, endocrine, immune, and cardiovascular systems
Increasing muscle protein, aerobic enzymes (boosts VO2 and lactate threshold), and stored energy
This last training response not only repairs the muscles and maintains fitness, but also boosts strength and endurance. If these physiological adjustments don't occur (inadequate recovery between strenuous workouts), the athlete is susceptible to chronic fatigue, over-training, and performance decline.
So, how long does it take to recover after a hard workout? Researchers say about 36 to 48 hours depending upon the individual athlete and the type of training. This recovery window corresponds nicely with the training practice of alternating hard and easy training days. So, you don't have to push yourself hard every day and, in fact, this practice may prove counter-productive.
The additional good news is that you can ensure and accelerate recovery by replenishing carbohydrate stores immediately following a strenuous workout. Three to four hundred calories of carbohydrate (sports drink, fruit juice) within 10 minutes post exercise and again an hour or two later maximizes physiological restoration and prepares you for your next workout. The benefit of carbohydrate replenishment is three-fold:
It enhances muscle and liver glycogen stores
It prevents muscle protein breakdown
It promotes protein synthesis
These factors are essential to the recovery process. Adequate carbohydrate replenishment is effective in accelerating recovery for both strength and endurance training.
Smart training is the process of maximizing work while minimizing fatigue. Too much work and not enough rest hinders your training progress and leads to fatigue, staleness, and injury. Too much rest and not enough work provokes too little training stress to maintain or improve fitness.
Stress comes in many forms. The stresses associated with job and family responsibilities consume energy, which might otherwise be available for training or racing. When the energy demands of the day or week are prioritized, paddling often becomes subordinate. However, training may be the best prescription for renewed vitality. There are short-term and long-term health benefits, which accompany this stress management paradigm. Aside from staying fit and resilient, training may help to mediate many chronic cardiovascular, metabolic, nervous, and immune system disorders. Training is a reliable stress management tool used to maintain physical, mental, emotional, and cosmic fitness.
Conclusions: The essence of the "total athlete" includes a balance of work, nutrition, and rest. Recovery is as necessary as work. Carbohydrate intake immediately following training helps to speed the recovery process by restoring fuel and building protein. In order to maximize training effect, the exercise/recovery balance is crucial. Proper training is good for you!
by Bruce von Borstel
Copyright © 1999 [Bruce von Borstel]. All rights reserved.