This is a blog about the importance of rest and recovery. I wrote it last year on holiday …
I’ve just taken my first holiday abroad in six years…. I know what you’re all thinking “she’s on a plane every other weekend, six years! Lies.” 😂😂 Yes, I’m a frequent traveller. Yes I have also had time off from training in the past six years. But training camps (even warm warm weather athletic ones) do not count as holidays. Getting on a plane does not equal a holiday (sadly). Travel takes its toll, not to mention the sliding down a mountain headfirst at 75 mph which we do five times a week, three times a day! I’ve also moved from Bath to Loughborough to Essex to Stirling to Edinburgh back to Stirling and finally back to Bath in those six years. I’ve had numerous jobs, finished two degrees, started my career, changed sport, taken a sabbatical from my career, re-realised my Olympic Dream oh and I’m supporting myself trying to run a business.
I was so ready for a holiday!
Not that I was near to burning out; the first five weeks of full time training had actually been a revelation. Used to training and working full time plus monthly travel to Bath or Europe just having to train was a privilege! In 2015, I was barely coping. Not managing to give my all to either work or skeleton it was only a matter of time until something had to give. Work forced my hand into taking a sabbatical, and this turned out to be a welcome relief whereby I could focus purely on skeleton albeit a shock to the financial side of things. So although over the past five weeks my training has been the most intense and the highest volume ever (in 17 years of training) I as they like to say was ‘thriving’!
The difference? Adequate time for rest and recovery. Change and adaptation happens when you rest. Training breaks you, appropriate and effective recovery puts it back together, stronger and better than before. You see, a successful athlete is one that demonstrates athlete behaviours on and off the track. I live my whole day as an athlete now, compared to before when I was being an athlete for the 2-3 hours of training and being a sport scientist 9-5 (ish). I keep busy, working and building KimFit but I do that to enable me to live this athlete life. Plus a lot of the work I do isn’t strenuous so I’m allowing my body to recover, rather than standing around a lab or a pool or a track. I really miss my work but I also know from my work that it wasn’t helping me optimise my training and recovery.
This brings me to this week and holiday. Usually I’d use my ‘holidays’ to go on training camps (I sure know how to live!) because I had work the rest of the time. So it wasn’t really a holiday. Having worked relentlessly since starting the skeleton talent ID process in 2014 I took the first opportunity I had to go away and properly relax (although I still did some training). My training programme this summer includes several ‘down weeks’; low volume weeks where were encouraged to get away from Bath and reenergise before the next block of training. It’s a chance to relax, see friends and family and give the body a break (I just do a few sessions to keep the body ticking over).
So on Friday evening, upon finishing my training for the week I shut down my laptop. It’s over a week now and I’ve not opened it yet. I honestly cannot remember the last time I didn’t use my laptop for 9 days. Maybe never. I spent some time with family and friends on Saturday and then travelled to turkey with my boyfriend on Sunday where I’ve been the past week. Of course, with KimFit I couldn’t just go awol on social media so I spend some time before I left scheduling posts and videos and when wifi permitted checked Twitter/Facebook. BUT in comparison to the amount of time I’m usually on my phone/laptop it was a major break.
And I feel loads better for it. My focus was on the holiday and spending time with James who I don’t get to see much now since I moved away from Scotland. We stayed in a quiet part of Turkey (well away from trouble), and just played tourists for the week. I never quite forgot I was an athlete, having to source a gym and be wary of my footwear on long walks, keeping my physio exercises going etc. But all in all it was pretty relaxing, and I’ve got a decent Vit D top up just before my blood test tomorrow – bonus!!
My body and mind feel rested, I’m excited for the next block of training and for KimFit; I have loads of plans that I want to put into action. Of course, I have a solid amount of to do anxiety right now (hence I’m using my train journey home to get a head start on this weeks content) but I’m seriously optimistic for the next four weeks! Once this week is done I should be back in the swing of things and caught up; I’ve got my first proper shifts at two new jobs this week and I’m launching Quiz Fit with the Bath Health Heroes! It’s all go!! Usually that would stress me out, but having had the week to empty my head (mostly; I did write a few notes/lists) I feel refreshed and keen to get started.
You should give it a go. Even if a weeks holiday isn’t on the cards try these tips to declutter your mind and rediscover your energy and passion.
Here are my top three tips for getting some vital R+R on a day to day basis
- Commit to an hour (or more) off your phone/laptop/emails every day
- Avoid caffeine past 5pm. I switch to decaff tea and can’t tell the difference
- Do something you love for 30 min a day; read a book, have a bath, phone a friend for a chat or do some knitting!
So rest up; it’s good for body and mind!