it is said that recovery is a critical piece of any training program.
recovery, rest, sleep; all of these things are supposedly important.
I like this aspect of training, perhaps best of all.
according to running coach dave spence, "actual physiological gains occur during rest and recovery," not during the times we are physically challenging our bodies.
intellectually I have learned to accept this, but it is still a hard concept to fully envelop into my life. I am driven, and determined to better myself. if I rode 159 miles last week, I want to ride at least 160 this week. I want to become better faster stronger, all of those things. and so I think I need to work at it. to work hard. to push. to challenge myself.
and then to do it again the next day.
I've written before about recovery days (also known as "active recovery"), and how I have a love-hate relationship with them. I like being able to take it easy, but . . . I also like to sometimes sprint up a hill. or if I'm not allowed to sprint up the hill, perhaps I could just stay in bed. isn't "active recovery" an oxymoron? let me do one or the other: this both-yet-neither thing is a challenge for my psyche. a challenge which I continue to work on overcoming.
so then I turn to the best thing of all: rest. and I love the days when I know I've earned a rest. when I've worked hard, ridden hard, put in lots of miles and effort, and thus am deserving of rest.
rest days for me usually mean I catch up on laundry, cleaning, and ~ shudder ~ yardwork. I run errands, I straighten my house. I mend what needs to be mended, I clean out a drawer. I make lists of those little nagging jobs that never seem to make it to the top of any list, and I sometimes do a task and cross it from that list. I get out the glue gun and re-adhere something that's come unglued, I sweep leaves off my back patio. I clean a shelf in the refrigerator, I organize a file, I write a note to my great aunt and uncle in missouri.
rest days are good for my organizational self.
and then there's sleep: oh, I love sleep. I love my bed; I often look at it with longing in the middle of the day. I love to curl up at night and let every little muscle in my body give up its hold. I let my toes uncurl, I feel each muscle in my hands let go and relax. I sigh, I say my brief little prayers, and I ask for sleep to take me away.
and to think that sleep, rest, and active recovery are really benefiting my fitness level . . . how incredible is that?
it's a very zen concept, really, the belief that just "being" is of greater benefit than we can usually acknowledge or understand. that we grow most when we do the least. the stillness, the non-doing, is when we incorporate our new learning into who we are, and it's a process that cannot be accomplished by thinking about it.
our physical improvements can't happen until we let go of the work and just let the muscles and body do their own thing.
rest, sleep, recovery.
these make me smile, for they challenge me.
and when I'm challenged, I grow.
when I grow, I am happy.