OFM cannot stress enough the importance of rest and relaxation to not only recover but also allow the body to adapt to the training load so you can get stronger and more proficient at your sport. We see too many athletes who not only want to excel at their sport but also in their professional & personal lives so the first thing sacrificed is sleep and downtime when these should be the last thing a serious athlete should be cutting out……sound like you? In many cases we have found an athlete’s performance to soar when they cut back their training volume and added back the downtime.
What many athletes, especially endurance athletes, do not understand is the rest cycles are where the body actually makes the gains from the training. Without appropriate rest and relaxation the athlete will be overtrained which not only means he/she will not perform optimally but predispose themselves to injury and/or breakdown. Now this does not mean that in a period of high volume of training where the block has cumulative training loads where you do not fully recover from each session that you will get full rest/recovery during that period, however, as you segue to the recovery phase you do need to focus on sleep and downtime rather than playing catch up in other areas of life.
Make time for adequate nightly sleep. Augment sleep after long or hard training sessions. Allow yourself to take naps after high volume training if you find yourself naturally wanting periodic naps. These are the result of surges of HGH and the surge combined with the sleep are some of the most potent ways your body can adapt to the training load to make you stronger for the next bout or competition. We strongly recommend you find ways to take these naps and work around them in your work or personal life as you best can. Even a short 20-30 minute power nap or lunch nap will do wonders for your adaptation and daily work life. We strongly suggest not taking any stimulants to get through these phases as the combination of caffeine and not napping inhibits recovery.
Non-structured downtime also plays an important role in recovery process so make time for this.
Active recovery can be combined with non-structured downtime but the activity should not be forced. There are several benefits to active recovery but it should not be substituted for adequate sleep or resting if the athlete wants to nap or even lay on the couch and channel surf.