As a swimmer, I’ve been schooled about the importance of ‘rest and recovery’ for years.
It has fallen on persistently deaf ears until recently.
A year ago, if you had asked me to list ways to improve as an athlete, aside from training, I would have recited a bunch of stale facts.
“Eat healthy. Get enough sleep. Stretch.”
All true. All vague.
Being an athlete is like being an artist. The best swimmers in the world create works of art through their approach to training, recovery, attitude and demeanor.
See, hard training doesn’t actually make you better. Training is the break-down process. The body is pushed to its limits so that it can recover and become stronger, faster, tougher. You can’t get better without training, but you only reap the full benefit of those hard yards, buckets of sweat and tears when you allow the body and mind to regenerate.
Like art, training is the rough sketch. It’s the bones of a masterpiece. The lines and shapes which only the artist themselves will ever see.
No-one goes to an exhibition to view sketches.
The best athletes in the world create art by carefully sketching a base through hard work. What separates the elite from the masses is the colour, flare and meticulous application to every aspect of training- rest and recovery included.
What so many young athletes don’t realise is that breath-taking art is the resulting web of activities, strategies, behaviors and habits of champions.
Sleeping 8 hours a night is a splash of blue. Allocating 20 minutes of stretching and rehab time creates waves of texture. Drinking water throughout the day blends colours together. Having a snack with protein and carbohydrate before and after training frames the piece for display.
Too often, people believe that hard work and taper are the two ingredients to success. Look at any recipe, there’s almost always more than just two ingredients. Though the vanilla extract and pinch of salt may not make up the bulk of a meal, they are the subtle differences which ignite a dish.
If I had one message to younger athletes, it would be to make more than just a sketch. To be proactive and take responsibility, without being told or reminded.
When the time comes to step away from your athletic pursuits, appreciate every act of professionalism that went in to molding you in to the best athlete you could be.
Quick tips for helping add colour to your regime..
- Turn WIFI off 10 minutes before going to bed (the Messenger group banter can wait)
- Allocate time to stretch and perform rehab exercises, habit is crucial.
- Have snacks in your training bag
- Have snacks in your car
- Have snacks in your work bag
- Have snacks
- LOMO: love of missing out. Your time as an athlete is limited. Parties, events and shows come and go, your window as an athlete will close, permanently, at some point.
- Prioritize your spending. A trip to the sup store or physio is more important than that dress..