I am still writing from beautiful (although today rainy) Park City, Utah. And with the need for increased recover between workouts for the athletes, I have had time to catch up on reading articles and well, writing a couple of blog posts.
I read an article last night looking at our ability to recover from the everyday stresses of life, and for some exercise. We have to understand that every day we are exposed to stressors; physical, chemical, electromagnetic, psychological, nutritional, and thermal. Yet, we say we are doing everything correctly and do not yield any results from our efforts. It was stated by Paul Chek, “How can it be that we put men on the moon at will, make laser guided missiles, have the ability to image your insides with incredible reproducibility and perform major surgery through a key hole, and yet last year alone, American pharmacies filled three billion prescriptions?” Because we screw up the little things, that’s why. We go to bed late, our training is poorly periodized, and we eat shit and then expect to perform optimally. It doesn’t work that way. We need to build the foundation around us so that we can handle the stressors we are exposed to.
I should jump back and explain what I mean by the stressors. Physical – this could be in the form of an injury but in most cases, it refers to exercise, be it intensity, weights or long slow distance cardio. Chemical stressors we are exposed to everyday. Yes we produce chemicals within the body that cause stress however that is part of the adaptation process. It is when that ability to respond is decreased we end up with issues. As well, within the body we have parasitic organisms that produce chemicals that could be considered a stressor, but it has been shown without the parasitic organisms, we would have a compromised immune response. Electromagnetic is something we are exposed to everyday. Blame the computers, the cell phones, the ipods and the big screen televisions. And most of these are present in the bedroom, which screws with the sleep patterns leading to psychological stress. I alluded to the disturbance of sleep patterns in a previous blog post http://deliberateperformance.ca/2010/06/20/the-importance-of-sleep/) so I will not bore you again with the details. But psychological stress is not just a disturbance in sleep. It can be the constant chatter that is present in our heads every day, the noise that can cause paranoia and self doubt. Nutritional, well once again we can start back at (http://deliberateperformance.ca/2010/07/07/the-simple-nutritional-approach-part-1/) and continue through parts 2 and 3. Thermal really comes down to the body’s ability to adapt to the varying temperature that we may be exposed to in our respective climates. This tends to be less of a problem as most of us have the ability to dress accordingly to the weather we are about to encounter.
So why do I write this? Well it hit me at the camp here at Park City. We are pushing these athletes to the edge, in order to get a desired response. However in the process, we expose these athletes to physical (workouts), chemical (body’s response to intensity such as an increase in lactate and the altitude of Park City, Utah), and psychological (the stress of performing twice a day). Electromagnetic is pretty easily controlled. All the athletes are conscious to the effects of televisions, cell phones and computers have on sleep so they take the necessary steps to eliminate them. Nutritional is well controlled, as the evening meal is prepared but a chef who is also a triathlete, so I am going to say that the correct balances of carbs, proteins and fats are there. Is it organic… let’s pretend that it is. I can tell you that I hit a Whole Foods, and my room is stocked with only organic, as is much of the athletes rooms. Thermal, well, they are well prepared for that.
Now it is the responsibility of the coaching staff to monitor, and make sure that we are cognisant of the program and planning in recovery for the athletes to combat the physical, chemical and psychological. Now I need to stress that you do not need to be an elite athlete, or have a team of coaches, physiologists, and therapists in order to manage these stressors. You need to be aware of these stressors (physical, chemical, electromagnetic, psychological, nutritional and thermal) by understanding them, respecting them and taking care of the basics. Remember those basics are… high quality foods, clean water and adequate sleep. Take care of those three first and the rest can to some degree manage themselves. It’s really not that hard for most people. It is when you get to the elite level you need to take into consideration a few more extenuating factors.
Just a little thought in my head this rainy afternoon.
Yours in Heath and Performance,