Finding the balance between work and play
If you are anything like me and addicted to training and particularly CrossFit, the thought of missing a training session is often disappointing. Sometimes work gets in my way, which I totally resent, sometimes it‘s other home commitments, and sometimes I’m just plain tired! However, on the increasingly rare occasions when I am injury or niggle free I just want to make the most of it and train, train, train. Obviously there is a floor in my logic, as it’s probably over training that causes the injuries or niggles in the first place.
Struggling to know how to best handle the balance of work, training and rest I sought out expert advice from the oracle himself – James Jowsey (check out Jowsey’s website and blog if you want to know the real deal about training, and looking after your body). I asked him if he could explain to us how we should be addressing rest and also to explain the different requirements the more mature athlete has compared with the younger ones.
“Rest is a vital and often long forgotten aspect of training just like mobility. Rest and nutrition are more important than the training itself as this is the time when the body adapts to the stress or stimulus that you have trained in. Training breaks down the muscle fibres creating small micro tears, it then takes the intake of protein to rebuild the fibres and also time/rest for this to occur. Neurological recovery also needs to happen – notice how more tired you are after a competition? This is partly because of the extra volume that a competition would have but also massively due to the nervous and hormonal systems that have been under fire with all the extra pressure you are under. A week off post competition is a must!
“So….. How does this affect the over 40′s? Unfortunately, as we all age everything gets slower so after you train it takes longer for you to recover than a CrossFitter in their twenties due to slower cellular repair etc. How do you implement this into your programme? Look at your own training and ask yourself how many days in succession do I train? How do I feel on those days – do you feel ‘good to go’ every single session or do you feel like you are clinging on and dragging yourself through it? If so, the likelihood is that you have either had inadequate food or insufficient rest!
“Think about adding a rest day every other day or every two days if you feel good to. It is better to able to hit each session going in with a tank of energy and recovered muscle system at 80-100% full than it is hitting the sessions at 50-75% full. Working with a tank at 50-75% is not conducive to creating intensity where all results are achieved and the whole ethos of CrossFit (with form of course)! Not only will your training benefit, you will get less run down and less likely to pick up niggly injuries.”
So, it sounds like I need to reign in my enthusiasm and “train smart” as Karl Steadman is always telling me!
But I thought it might be interesting to find out if any of our newly crowned “European Masters Champions” had a training/rest plan in place, and if they adapted their training before and after the competition.
Martina Calgey, (winner 40-44) trains and is a coach at Crossfit Waterford in She took a few days off from training after the masters and was in another competition the following Saturday in Ireland. “This was a big mistake and my body had not fully recovered and I felt very tired during the second competition. I learned the lesson that you should listen to your body!
“I learned a lot about myself and my abilities at the Masters, particularly thanks to Andy Edwards programming of Wod 5. I know I need to get my speed and skills up so I have started to do some track work (sprinting) at our local track and I am working on my weaknesses after class as I hope to get better at CrossFit.”
Maz Glover (winner 45-49) is not known for taking it easy! Usually training twice a day with 2 days rest, Maz listens to her body; “If I have overworked myself or feel any DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness), I will either take that time off or work a difference muscle group.”
“Strength is my strength and I suit more short explosive wods, but I guessed that Andy would keep the weights reasonably low, so I trained accordingly, but rested for the two days before the competition.
“The following week my body was feeling the effects, Andy had just about hit every muscle group with the five wods, but I felt I had prepared for it well. I rested well the following week as I was attending the Outlaw Way course and knew that we would be hitting heavy weights.”
Sharron Lowe (winner 50+) didn’t do anything different in her actual training leading up to the competition and said; “Because of my full time job I am limited to when I can get to the gym and I can usually only get to the pre-programmed classes at 3D. I just do what Coach Steadders throws as us each day. I usually train 4 days a week, it was five but Jowsey recently told me I need to have more rest days, and I am trying to be sensible.
“I did actually increase my mobilisations before the comp and made sure I had plenty of Fish Oil, Vitamin D and Nurofen! Post comp I made the mistake of only mobilising on Monday and Tuesday and then getting right back into training on Wednesday, and I felt very tired the rest of the week, and really struggled with niggles and tiredness since – it’s extraordinary how much five wods in one day can affect your body.”
So it seems rest is critical to the success of your training programme. Which leads me to my next question … how much training is enough training in one session?… next time…..