I don’t have a ton of deep thoughts this week – but just some key takeaways from a book I just finished: Good to Go by Christie Aschwanden. It’s a scientific take on recovery methods and fads. What I liked is that Christie is an ex-elite endurance athlete who is now in her 40’s and clearly still charges. She’s a runner, cross-country skier and cyclist who loves to push herself hard for the enjoyment of it but still wants to get the best out of herself. Sounds like a lot of people I know 😉
Christie looks at the science behind everything from icing, massages, foam rollers, Tom Brady infrared pyjamas (I won’t out who in this group uses those ;)), recovery shakes and supplements, cryo-chambers, saunas, compression boots, drinking beer, float tanks and more. Her biggest takeaway: by FAR the biggest and most useful and scientifically significant method for recovery is sleep. Most of the other methods probably don’t delay recovery (some do though), and if they feel good and provide a comforting ritual for you then continue to do them because the placebo effect can help, but almost everything else is either a fad, lore, marketing, or not scientifically proven.
Another big takeaway was how much stress can impede our recovery and even stunt our improvement. We all know the formula that Stress + Rest = Growth. Unfortunately, Stress + more Stress = No Growth or even Breakdown. If the first Stress is training induced and the second Stress in the formula is work or home related, your body doesn’t care about the difference. Christie looked at a study where they gave a group of volunteers a new exercise program and asked them to rate their mental stress. Those who reported low mental stress made significant improvements in aerobic capacity and maximum strength, but those who reported high mental stress showed little to no gains. For the SAME exercise program! This is interesting to me as I had always known there was a group of people who were “low exercise responders” but I didn’t know why. It turns out that these people might just be not recovering and adapting because of compounded stress.
So guys, for performance improvements, two of the best things we can do is to sleep enough and manage our stress. Stress is not an objective thing – what’s stressful to one person might not be to someone else. It’s how you perceive and manage it that matters. And luckily, running helps most of us manage it better! Christie also notes that since everyone is unique in how they perceive and manage stress, it is extremely hard to find a scientific solution for recovery. For some people their best recovery method might be to go out for drinks with friends, for others it could be a solo walk in the forest, and for others it could be watching shows with their family. But whatever it is for you, take that shit as seriously as you take your training – that’s my two cents!
Let’s focus on the process. Your goal for this workout is to do it within your comfort zone – nothing sexy. Don’t worry – there is time for sexy and outside your comfort zone, but the biggest gains are made from boring consistency. So your objective will not be your times, but how relaxed you can get yourself to feel while running fast.
600 focused on being relaxed/fast; 45 seconds rest; 200 faster w quicker turnover
2 minutes rest (jog to 200m)
Repeat 5-7 times
(I will create a 200m mark from the east side so we can do these both ways)
I’ll be jogging/cheering this one and will try to make sure you’re all looking relaxed and not straining 😉
See y’all in the a.m.!