The Importance of Recovery- Crossfit the Point
You do Crossfit--an amazing athletic sport that pushes you to your limits, strengthens your heart and muscles and proves you are a badass! Right! You try to come every day and when you miss you feel FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because you might miss a cool movement or get “out of shape!” This might be a little extreme but it might also ring true to some of you. Truthfully, I hate to admit this but I have been this crazy obsessed athlete. I love Crossfit but I was so afraid my running abilities would suffer if I only did Crossfit that I have done multiple forms of exercise a day. I pushed hard physically and slept too little. I eventually ended up with a bad foot injury and shingles (which is brought on by stress and is the absolute worst).
Why do I bring my personal story into the importance of recovery? I want you to learn from my mistakes! If you do not take rest days you cannot progress (long term) and you may get injured. Rest days allow for physiological and psychological benefits that are essential to athletic progress.
Physiologically, rest allows the body to learn from and adapt to the recent physical stress, repair muscles, rebuild, and be stronger and better adapted for the next physical challenge (in our case, the next WOD). In CrossFit, we typically perform workouts that push us to an intensity level that hovers in the “hard but doable” realm. The result is an adaptation that continuously helps us become stronger, more skilled, faster, etc. The CRAZY PART is that this adaptation takes place during the rest and recovery phase, not during the workout! Too much intensity or too little recovery has a negative impact on an athlete and can head them toward plateau rather than continuous improvement.
Psychologically (when our head is in the right place) rest days can allow us time off to come back stronger and able to work harder. I know psychologically it may be difficult for some of us to rest, so make it an active rest day- go on a walk, do some yoga, play frisbee with your kids, etc. Keep your activity low-intensity (30-60% of your heart rate- do the talk test to maintain low-intensity). Don’t waste energy worrying about not working out, try to remember it is good for your body to rest and recover.
As athletes (and not just CrossFit athletes) we constantly chase performance and for many, appearance too. We’ll do anything for a better run time, a faster Fran, or a heavier deadlift. Change my diet? Sure, tell me what I can and can’t eat. Buy the right shoes? Sure, where do I pay? Take a day off? NO WAY.
Rest and recovery includes true rest days as well as rest in the form of consistent quality sleep (and that means 7+ hours). Think you can perform well on 5 hours of sleep a night? Think again. You might be able to for a period of time but it will catch up to you. Work on going to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each week until you reach your needed amount of sleep. Deep REM sleep is the only time your brain can rest and detoxify.
If you plan to do Crossfit for the long term please take the time for rest days! -Your body will thank you and you will get stronger in the long term.