If you speak to any CrossFit Games athlete, they will probably tell you the biggest factors that affect their performance (especially in competition) are: Mental game and Recover.
All of the athletes at the Games are incredibly fit and capable, but it’s those whose bodies and minds hold up over multiple workouts who come out on top at an event like Regionals or the Games. And you better believe they actively work on both of those components—mental training and recovery—of their game.
Today, we’re going to address one of them: Recovery!
Now I know you’re not a Games athletes, BUT recovery still matters, even if you’re an accountant who goes to the gym recreationally three days a week and plays hockey on the weekend. More than you probably think.
Sure, you might be able to get away with performing well after one night of bad sleep, or PR-ing a workout when you’re hungover once in a blue moon, but imagine an entire week without sleep: Could you perform well then? Or what about a month of binge-drinking every night: Think you could PR then?
Although you hopefully haven’t ever gone a week without sleeping, many of us are still chronically under-recovered. Don’t mistake under-recovery for overtraining. For most people, under-recovery is more a result of poor lifestyle and nutrition choices than training volume.
Think this might be you?
In this—Part 1—we’ll consider symptoms that tell you your recovery is out of whack. In Part 2, we’ll look at potential solutions to the problem.
Here are some signs and symptoms that your recovery might not be on point:
You haven’t PR’ed in months
If you don’t find your numbers going up, especially if you’ve only been committed to your training for a year or two (once you hit five years, plateaus do become normal and part of the process, but in your first year or two of training, PRs should happen quite regularly if you’re coming to the gym regularly and following a consistent program).
DOMS all day everyday
Obviously you're going to be sore from doing 100 pull-ups if the most pull-ups you normally do is 25 to 30, but if you’re feeling DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) more than you used to, or after a training session you know your body shouldn’t feel sore from, it could have something to do with poor recovery.
Resting Heart Rate
Is your resting heart rate higher (or lower) than it used to be? If you’re not recovering from training, or from other physical or mental stresses, you might notice a rise in your resting heart rate. If the problem isn’t dealt with—as the body gets more and more warn down—you might experience a decline in your resting heart rate. Knowing your resting heart rate is certainly a good thing to keep track of, so you can then note changes if and when they do occur.
“Are you OK?”
If you’re feeling uncharacteristically blue/low/depressed and people keep asking you if you're OK, it could be something diet-related that’s stopping you from recovering properly to the point that it’s affecting your mood.
Tossing and turning in bed?
Did you used to be a good sleeper, and now you find yourself unable to fall asleep, or you wake up and can’t get back to sleep? Again, this might have to do with your recovery: In this case, perhaps your adrenals aren’t recovering enough. It could also have to do with stress: Too much cortisol in the body will certainly negatively affect your sleep.
If this sounds like it might be you, check back in for Part 2 - Solutions to help your recover!