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The Importance of Rest and Recovery During Training

I think I called it in my last journal entry. Last week was rough. I was physically and mentally all kitty-whack. On at least two separate occasions, I put my shirt on backwards. My max reps in my conditioning log were at all-time lows. I downright stank at checklisting pretty much every time I tried. I managed not to cry on the mat, but that’s not to say I didn’t shed a tear or two of exhausted frustration over a paloma at my favorite Mexican restaurant. (I think the bartender noticed, felt bad for Jordan, and made his drink extra strong.)

That’s why, despite how much I miss live rolling, I elected to heed Danelle’s advice and take the entire holiday weekend off instead of hitting up Saturday’s open mat or attending any conditioning classes. I spent most of the weekend participating in incredibly low-intensity exercises such as making and eating food, building Lego sets, and playing Broken Age and Dragon Age. Even that left me exhausted enough to sleep 10-11 hours on Saturday, so apparently a few consecutive rest days were very much in order.

#Lego downtown details! #ferriswheel #lookoutforthatcreeper

A video posted by Elaine VDW (@elainevdw) on

Returning to training this week, I think I need to make a few small but significant changes. I’ve got to eat more, and eat more frequently. I realized that I’ve actually been eating less than did before the test, since the start of the black belt test coincided with a busy phase at work and I had less time to cook. Because eating out’s a bit of a Russian roulette for me due to dietary restrictions (dairy and gluten), it’s safer to eat at home even if I’m low on cooking time. Danelle and Lisa gave me some great ideas for filling snacks (fruit with nut butter, quality jerky, hard-boiled eggs), and I also recently saw this great post by the Paleo Mom on snacks for food-sensitive kids and adults.

Cats sleep 16-20 hours a day. Doesn't that sound great??

Cats sleep 16-20 hours a day. Doesn’t that sound great??

Additionally, I need to get to bed earlier. I sleep pretty well when I hit the hay, but I’m notorious for not going to bed until I’m practically already asleep on my feet. The amount I slept this weekend indicates I’ve got a lot of sleep debt to make up, and without adequate sleep, my ability to recover from physical activity and my ability to commit any learning I’m doing on the mat into long-term memory are both at a great disadvantage.

Onward to the second month of black belt testing! My black belt friends assured me that I’ll eventually fall into a routine, which will make this process a bit more smooth, although I certainly don’t expect it to get any easier! I hope all of you have had a fun and fulfilling holiday weekend, too.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Rest and Recovery During Training

  1. A good friend of mine that is a bodybuilder, like a competing, pro-card carrying bodybuilder, is also a tireless worker at our job. He’s meticulous with his eating and sleeping. He says its the only way he can put that much effort into his job and his hobby (which is basically a second job). He packs his food every morning. His “lunchbox” resembles the kind of carrying case you’d roll through the airport on the way to your flight. And he’s pretty focused on sleeping at specific times since he gets up god-awful early to workout.

    I think you already know the answers to your problems. Make your food for your entire day, consume it in small portions throughout the day, and go to sleep on time (plus stay hydrated!).

    1. I’ve seen those lunch boxes!! They’re amazing. I’m pretty lucky to work from home, which *should* make this a lot easier. So far this week I’ve done great on eating breakfast and snacks. It seems to be paying off already. 🙂

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