In brainstorming what topic to explore for today's post. A conversation with a colleague and my own personal athletic musings brought up Jim Loehr's classical recovery principle of wave-making. What exactly is making waves, you might ask?? I'll provide a brief definition here and go into some ways you can incorporate it into your training.
As many of you are aware, I work with several and am myself an endurance athlete. We're a driven bunch by nature; often driven to push hard all the time, no matter what. We tend to expect improvement for our hard, relentless efforts day in day out, but when we don't see progress, we often find ourselves frustrated. Why? Because recovery is oftentimes neglected. Not just chocolate milk after a run or swim, but by practicing systematic rest and psychological recovery.
Solid training is designed to ebb and flow. Wave making encompasses the principles of working in hard, high volume training and mental focus with a period of lighter intensity and demand-as the wave crests, a period of relaxed energy follows, collecting energy for the next crest. Notice how the energy cycles nicely in the concept of a wave and rest period. Loehr provides a nice description of how we can maximize our gains in sport by applying this analogy. Being one inclined to constantly press by nature, I am always reminding myself to release a bit, relax and refocus for my next effort. Riding the wave....
Everyone is different in their respective sport training and fitness levels, but the principle of recovery is as important for the mental aspect of the game as it is physical. We can train our brains and focus intensely for a while, but our minds need rest and recovery just as our bodies do. I encourage all athletes I work with to train their minds in a periodization format, just as they do for sport. For example, an athlete visualizing intensely for an upcoming meet gets a built-in "mental break" day, where they merely do their affirmations or don't think about sport at all! Coaches often incorporate a "fun" day after a big competition to help the athletes mentally refresh-for example swim teams getting to play water polo or soccer players getting an afternoon of kickball.
By practicing both physical and mental recovery on a regular basis, athletes find themselves energized and focused in competition on a more consistent basis and enjoy more stable energy levels. Train hard, focus, and learn, but take time to absorb the process as well. Ride the wave!