5 Tools I’m Using To Hack My Recovery
Table of Contents
As I’ve launched into the 777 Project, one of the things that my coach (Ian Sharman) has drilled into me is that recovery is HUGELY important. Over the past six months or so, I’ve worked to not only up my mileage but also to change my recovery habits both inside and outside the gym in order to move more efficiently, prevent injury, and stay healthy. Here are the recovery habits I’m using (number three has been a game changer for me).
I find yoga funny because sitting around and being all zen-like doesn’t seem very active to me.
I’ve always taken the Brian Regan approach to yoga. It just seems painful. (See this video if you’re in the US).
Simply take the bottom of your right foot and place it on the small of your back…
I’m not a flexible man and I’m terrible at yoga. That said, yoga has been great at getting me to slow down a bit, stretch more, and get outside my comfort zone. Granted, I do beginner’s yoga at my San Diego CrossFit gym and I’m the worst one there, but it’s been immensely helpful so far. Within the context of my training, it’s been a great a way of supplementing my strength and running routines.
But you still won’t see me being the yoga-mat-carrying guy with a hipster moustache and skinny jeans going to class on a fixie. Thanks but no thanks.
Foam Rolling/Lacrosse Ball Torture
Foam rolling is the best worst thing in the world.
If you need something to take your mind off the pain, make a rule that you can only watch TV if you’re on your foam roller. You’ll both watch less TV and foam roll way more.
With ultra running, I’ve found that the amount of time I spend on the foam roller correlates inversely with the amount of pain I feel while running and the amount of time it takes me to recover post-run. The correlation is amazing and it would be hilarious if the foam roller wasn’t so painful.
If you want to experience a more intense sort of hell, swap out your foam roller for a lacrosse ball or a baseball and feel the wrath of the gods unleashed on your legs.
We’re building a tool to help with this. More on that soon. For now, here’s what you need:
- The Best Foam Roller (aka The Foam Roller From Hell)
- Any old lacrosse ball
I started doing massage therapy a couple of months back and it’s been the best decision I’ve made this year.
I’m pretty good at jumping out of planes, running ultras, and doing other extreme activities, and while getting naked in a dark room with a stranger and being touched by them for an hour isn’t my idea of extreme, it’s definitely outside of my comfort zone. That said, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done during my athletic career.
It’s incredible that someone can dig into your muscles and find problem areas that you didn’t even know about. I’ve actually been able to troubleshoot upcoming problems that I wouldn’t have found out about had I not been having massage therapy.
P.S. If you’re in San Diego, Jessica at Zionic Touch is the best massage therapist in the area. Depending on how recently you had your last session with her, she’s either evil or a magician.
This is one of those things that I never would have thought I’d be caught dead doing. It’s always seemed very pointless. After all, the purpose of meditation is to sit and do nothing. So exciting!
Again, while I’m terrible at it, it’s been a great daily reminder to slow down. Meditation for newbies is tough, so if you’re new, you’ll want to check out this beginner’s guide to meditation by my friend Gabby Bernstein.
You’ll also want to check out the Headspace app, which is what I’ve been using to meditate for the last few months. It’s a great way to get started with guided meditation and I’m pretty sure it’d be impossible for me to sit still and meditate for ten minutes if I didn’t have Andy in my ear telling me what to do next.
Cold Shower Therapy™
CST has, over the past few years, become a form of meditation for me. I think Cold Shower Therapy™ is a great way to teach yourself that cold is just a sensation. When you start realizing that everything you feel is just a sensation, you’re able to step out of that sensation and realize that there are a lot of things going on beyond the sensation.
This sounds really stupid but sleep has been a game changer for me.
For the record, I hate the idea of sleep. Sitting down and being unconscious seems like such a waste of time. There’s so much I could do with an extra eight hours a day! But no. Instead I have to spend those eight hours sprawled out on a bed, unconscious and unproductive. AGH!
But the changes I’ve made have helped a lot.
- No work after 10pm – I’ve started doing this and it helps my mind wind down. Otherwise, it’s way too easy for me to work into the wee hours of the morning.
- Blackout curtains in my bedroom – San Diego is pretty chill, but blackout curtains still prevent light pollution from ruining my slumber.
- The bed is for sleeping – I created a new rule, which means I always sleep in my bed and that’s it. It might sound weird, but I like sleeping on my couch. It’s comfortable and relaxing. But since training myself to sleep in my bed, I’ve programmed my mind to know that when I go to my bed, I’m going to sleep.
- Airplane mode – My phone is in airplane mode while I sleep and other electronics are outside my bedroom.
- Sleep Cycle and Power Nap – These apps enable me to track and regulate my sleep quality. I don’t go uber crazy with sleep tracking, but these two apps are good enough to help me understand my sleep.
- A good mattress – I resisted for a while as I was slightly nomadic. However, I then realized that a good mattress was cheaper than I thought.
Instead of resisting sleep, I’m finally giving in. That’s probably a good thing considering that this article claims you can’t get enough sleep as an athlete.
Over and over again, I’m finding that the things that seem pointless are absolutely necessary when you look at the long game. On a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to cheat on ten minutes of stretching here or a bit of mobility work there, but you have to do it.
For me, the hardest part with going faster is slowing down. What about you?