I recently saw a great article in Competitor Running about flipping your mental switch from planning your training cycle to planning your recovery cycle.
I confess – guilty as charged, as are, I suspect, many people in competitive sports. When you see the total training hours per year for world-class rowers starting to exceed 1000, and the Concept2 challenges rewarding total volume of meters rowed, you often focus on how to fit more training volume in, at the expense of recovery. The upward pressure is there even if if you have never been, or are no longer, a world-class rower.
When you start getting into the masters age categories, at some point you notice that your body needs 3 days to recover from what used to take 1 day, and the mindset has to change. You can only oversome physiology up to a point.
I have to remind myself of the following, even to moderate my Crossfit training, which can become a goal in and of itself.
Tim Ferriss speaks about the “minimum effective dose” of training to generate the desired result.
The desired result for me is rowing faster for 1000m in the summer and 5000m in the fall. Period. Don’t forget it.
I can do that in one of four ways:
1. Become stronger to increase power output per stroke, meaning that given the same number of strokes, I go farther.
2. Become fitter, allowing me to take the number of strokes required to cover the distance in less time.
3. Refine my technique, allowing me to cover more meters per stroke.
4. Tinker with my body weight, oars, and rigging, changing the gearing of the physical system to optimize my biomechanics.
I need to structure my training to find the “minimum effective dose” in each of those four categories. What I’ve found in the past year is that that dose, if I “train to recover”, is probably in the single digits per week, which goes against everything I’ve learned over the past 25 years.
But if doing that still makes me faster, then so be it.