My summer is off to a great start. I’m up at 6AM watching the World Cup before I start work and I go out with a buddy for lunch to grab a mid day game. Go Germany! I admit to getting swept up in the action.
And last weekend I competed in the infamous Test of Metal mountain bike race with 999 other racers. It is a 67-kilometer cross-country mountain bike race with over 1,200 meters of climbing. The pros complete it in 2.5 – 3 hours. Mortals like me take 4 – 6 or more.
I’ve never trained for anything so hard in my life.
I want to share something l learned from all this about rest and recovery.
My trainer taught me that in an endurance race (not unlike our work lives) you’ll knock yourself out of the race if you try to maintain 100% effort. You need to let yourself slow down and recover in the easy spots so that you have the energy to push ahead in the tough zones.
And you need to be able to recognize an easy bit when you hit it. The race I did includes a steep 1 hour slog-of-a-climb. Even during the climb my trainer taught me to seek out and create brief opportunities to lower my heart rate and recover without actually stopping.
Professional soccer players employ the same strategy.
Most play the full 90 minute game but they don’t run flat out that whole time. Watch your favourite players, they never completely stop moving, but they do slow to a jog when they can. That’s how they rest and recover on the field. And that’s how they manage to have the energy they need to sprint when they really have to.
My point – no matter what’s going on – you have to make opportunities to take a break and recharge. No excuses.
Believe me, I know how tempting it is to try to push on through. We have to train ourselves to take breaks.
Those precious moments of recovery make the difference between knowing you can tackle the next mountain, and bailing on yourself and the people around you.
Oh, and I have to tell you, during the race, I saw people miserably pushing their bikes up steep hills. I saw some nasty wipe outs. I saw grown men on the ground screaming with cramp pain. Most importantly, I saw the finish line. It was awesome. I’ve posted more about my race and my lessons learned on my blog. Read on.