By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk
As an athlete I am continuously pushing my body, to it’s limits, and then beyond those. On most given days, I am either training hard or recovering from a challenging training session. I work full time, have a business on the side, a long list of responsibilities and commitments, but training often takes priority. It is what I do, it is so much of who I am.
So what happens when your body literally says “Wait a minute… slow down here…” and knocks you right out. Sometimes I believe the only way I will actually stop and take a proper rest day is when my body forces it upon me. This is the hardest thing to balance as an athlete…finding a balance between training hard and proper rest and recovery. Everyone is different, so there is no secret formula to mastering this, but what I have learned is the importance of listening to your own body. Burnout is real among athletes and it is the last thing you want to have happen, especially if you are working yourself up for a big event.
So, here are my top tips to avoiding crashing and burning:
1. Proper recovery after a workout: After you’ve pushed your muscles to their max, you have to recover and heal them. The best thing you can do is immediately, or as soon as you can after a workout, is get a recovery smoothie down the hatch. The immediate glucose, carbs and protein will start replenishing your muscles immediately and decrease over-all muscle fatigue.
2. Get enough sleep: Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night. This is the time your body will heal and recuperate. Most of us need 8 hours of quality sleep to function at our highest level so make sure you set aside some time for some serious zzz. Going to bed early is not always easy, but it is the best way to ensure you’re going to get enough sleep!
Tip: Turn your phone and TV off one hour before bed. Looking at a
bright screen so close to bed time will actually slow your body’s
natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin and you will have a
harder time falling asleep!
3. Proper Nutrition: Just like you wouldn’t put cheap, dirty gas in your car, you shouldn’t put it in your body, so cut the junk! Eating a healthy, balanced diet will keep your body running smooth, efficient and will keep unnecessary pounds away. Eating properly during exercise is just as important too. For this reason, I tend to avoid sugary gels and race food with chemicals in it. I tend to carry real food on my long runs like peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, and whole food bars. My favourite? Hammer Nutrition Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars. So good!
Tip: To avoid unhealthy snacking, carry around a banana, or a
container full of almonds or a healthy protein bar with you to grab
when your stomach starts rumbling!
4. Take rest days: Guess what! They are part of the program, and your body will thank you for them. Rest days do not have to mean sit on the couch and veg out all day. They can be active rest days such as a less intense cycle, a yoga class, a light, slow paced run… just not your usual revved up, sweat fest. Honour rest day and keep it sacred. If you are like me, you’re probably only giving yourself one a week, so enjoy it!
5. Switching it up: Don’t just stick to one exercise all the time. For one, that is boring, for two, your body will get used the routine and you wont progress as easily, and for 3 it can be a lot on your body to be constantly doing the same thing, and you might not be gaining anything from it. Instead of running everyday, add some cycling in there. Hit the gym for some strength training. Go to yoga to stretch and balance everything out. Our bodies do not benefit from constantly doing the same thing all the time. In fact they will burn out faster and get more fatigued instead of getting stronger. Running 6 days a week is a lot of pounding on your joints and muscles so taking 1-2 days out a week and adding a different activity is the best way to train! Balance and switching it up are key in increasing your endurance and strength and decreasing your chances of athlete burn out.