This is a short piece I wrote for our summer newsletter at the gym where I run a weekly clinic.
How is your fitness plan going now we’ve landed in the summer holidays? Are you still putting in the miles, hitting PB’s, upping the intensity, or are you taking a break, relaxing, making the most of time away from the treadmill? You might, if you've opted for the latter approach, be feeling a twinge of guilt. You might feel that if you don’t get out and do something you’ll suffer for it when you get started again, or maybe you worry you’ll never get started again.
Perhaps you’ve just joined the gym, having decided it’s time to get fitter, lose some weight or simply get active. You’re hitting the cross-trainer, looking at classes and are all pumped-up about the new you waiting to be revealed!
Whenever you start a new exercise or fitness routine one of the sometimes overlooked aspects of the plan is rest and recovery. Along with all those stretches we’re supposed to do pre- and post- training, but never quite find the time to actually do, taking rest and recovery seriously simmers away on the back burner of our training schedules. Someone somewhere once mentioned periodisation, but we can’t remember what it is and why it’s important. And anyway, we’re too busy training to take time off.
But here’s the thing, over-training can create chronic conditions that can be hard to treat and can even lead to not being able to participate in training the way you want to. Typical over-use injuries include things like tennis elbow, runner’s or jumper’s knee, tendonitis, joint and muscle pain. As their name implies, they come on slowly over a period of time rather than suddenly, although some show up suddenly with an acute pain, the symptoms have probably been developing over weeks and months. Some seem to cure themselves, usually because our technique improves, but others simply persist.
The good news is that if you factor in proper rest and recovery, you can reduce the risk of suffering a chronic injury. Soft tissue therapy can also play an important role in helping keep tissue healthy and helping in rehabilitating injuries when they occur.
Periodisation doesn’t have to be complicated and it isn’t just for competitive athletes. Everyone can develop a simple approach to keep themselves motivated and energised about their training. A simple plan might be set out over three months and broken down into three four-week cycles. Weeks 1-3 might be you’re most intense training patterns and the fourth week would be a light, rest and recovery week. You could even schedule a Sports Massage for week 4!