Recovery — the conclusion:
Optimal recovery is achieved by keeping it simple.
Thomas Solomon, PhD.
15th October 2020.
What do Gene Simmons and the best approach to recovery have in common? To find out, stay with me for one final session as I wrap up this series on recovery by describing the “knowns” in this convoluted area to help you make informed decisions.
Reading time ~20-mins (4000-words)
or listen to Podcast version here.
Before delving into your recovery toolbox, first you must take a brief 2-minute ride on the mathematical nerd train...
Most biological studies use a statistical approach called “null-hypothesis significance testing” to examine the change in a mean value (average value) of a variable (e.g. muscle strength) within a group of people (a sample) caused by an experimental intervention (e.g. 8-weeks of training plus post-exercise protein feeding). This type of study is called a longitudinal or within-subjects repeated-measures design and it determines the effects of the intervention within the same people. The “null hypothesis” would propose that “muscle strength will not increase more during training when 2 g/kg/day of protein is eaten vs. 0.8 g/kg/day”, but you will more often see papers state the “alternate” hypothesis: i.e. strength will increase more when 2 g/kg/day of protein is eaten.
Next, you design and conduct an appropriate study that aims to disprove the null hypothesis. To do so, you would randomise volunteers (people) to be placed in the “experimental intervention” group (training + 2 g/kg/day protein) or the “control” group (training + 0.8 g/kg/day) in a double-blinded manner (which means neither the subjects or investigators would know whether subjects are assigned to 2 or 0.8 g/kd/day protein). Then, you measure the change in the variable of interest (muscle strength) in both groups — this is a randomised controlled trial. Better still, you would randomise all participants to receive both the intervention and the control treatments in a randomised order on separate occasions — a cross-over design.
When your study is complete, the data are analysed and you can be unblinded to the trial allocation (or trial order, if you used a cross-over design). Now the significance testing begins.
Statistical significance testing is about examining probability, in this case, examining the probability (P) that there is no difference in the change in muscle strength between the 2 g/kg/day and 0.8 g/kg/day trials. If your calculated P-value is less than or equal to a criterion value, which has traditionally been set at 5% — i.e. if P ≤ 0.05 — then you say, “hoorah, statistical significance!”, which is sort of like saying “I am terribly excited that there is less than a 5% chance that the difference between trials is not due to random occurrence”. In other words, P ≤ 0.05 means there is a low chance of your experimental intervention not having an effect.
Simple. Right? No. Not really. A P-value is heavily influenced by the number of people being studied, which can cause massive data-sets (like those in epidemiological studies) to find statistical significance when there is a very small effect — in other words, huge data sets might find meaning where there is none. Additionally, a P-value — the chance of an intervention not having an effect — does not tell you anything about the size of the effect that your intervention might be having on your variable of interest. Neither does it tell us anything about the chance of something appearing to have an effect when actually it does not (a false-positive).
What does this mean? Well, a “statistically-significant” finding does not prove that there is an effect nor does it prove that any effect is meaningful — a “statistically-significant” finding simply implies that there is a rather low chance of there not being an effect.
So, how do you measure the size of an effect?
By evaluating the standard deviation — the spread of values — of the change in the variable of interest (muscle strength) caused by the experimental intervention (2 g/kg/day protein) relative to the mean (average) value of the variable of interest, we can calculate an effect size. Because neither the spread of values nor the average value are influenced by the units of measurement (kgs of weight lifted), effect sizes are dimensionless (unitless) and can, therefore, be compared between interventions. This is beautiful because it allows you to compare the size of the effects of the various modalities you use for getting “ready to go again”.
So, in choosing how to “do” your recovery, you may disembark the mathematical nerd train and see that an important question emerges from the fog...
How large are the effect sizes of the tools in your recovery toolbox?
If you have been following this series on recovery, you already know that systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials are the highest level of evidence that can be used to inform practice. If you have not, now you know.
How large is the effect of eating carbohydrate and protein on the recovery of your performance?
The data in Table 1 have been extracted from the systematic reviews described in my previous recovery posts on carbohydrate, protein, and carbohydrate plus protein. Note that an effect size of less than 0.2 represents a trivial effect, 0.2 to 0.5 is small, 0.5 to 0.8 is moderate, 0.8 to 1.2 is large, 1.2 to 2.0 is very large, and above 2.0 is a huge effect.
Table 1 — the size of the effect of post-exercise carbohydrate or protein ingestion on the recovery of strength or endurance.
Meta-analysis of 43 trials (n = 256 participants) comparing carbohydrate + protein vs. carbohydrate alone on exercise time-to-exhaustion performance.
Post-exercise carbohydrate + protein increased exercise time to exhaustion and time trial performance vs. carbohydrate alone.
2.02 to 3.34 (several different “time to exhaustion” comparisons made; huge beneficial effects of post-exercise carb+protein ingestion on subsequent performance vs. carbohydrate alone for all comparisons)
3.39 (huge beneficial effect of post-exercise carb+protein ingestion on subsequent endurance time trial performance vs. carbohydrate alone)
Meta-analysis of 13 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of protein ingestion on restoration of muscle contractile function.
Protein ingestion following strength exercise better restored contractile function vs. no protein when assessed up to 96-hours following the first bout.
0.6 (moderate beneficial effect of post-exercise protein ingestion on the restoration of muscle strength for up to 24-h)
0.4 (small beneficial effect of post-exercise protein ingestion on the restoration of muscle strength at 24-h)
0.4 (small beneficial effect of post-exercise protein ingestion on the restoration of muscle strength at48-h)
0.7 (moderate beneficial of post-exercise protein ingestion on the restoration of muscle strength at 72-h)
0.4 (small beneficial of post-exercise protein ingestion on the restoration of muscle strength at 96-h)
Meta-analysis of 45 trials (n = 486 participants) comparing carbohydrate to water on endurance performance (cycling and running) within 4 hours of previous exercise.
Post-exercise carbohydrate improved endurance performance and anaerobic performance when compared to water alone (but being fed, rather than fasted, prior to the first bout, lessened the effect size).
Post-exercise carbohydrate + protein improved endurance performance vs. carbohydrate alone (but this might be due to additional calories rather than protein per se.)
3.97 (huge beneficial effect of carb+protein ingestion on the recovery of endurance performance vs. water)
2.55 (huge beneficial effect of carb+protein ingestion on the recovery of anaerobic performance vs. water).
0.55 (moderate beneficial effect of carb+protein ingestion on the recovery of endurance performance when compared to non-calorie-matched. carbohydrate alone)
The most recent meta-analysed data, which I thoroughly discussed in my posts on carbohydrate, protein, and carbohydrate plus protein, show that eating protein alone after a session has a small to moderate beneficial effect on the restoration of muscle strength, when compared to not eating protein. Eating carbohydrate combined with protein after a session is more useful and has a huge beneficial effect on subsequent endurance performance and anaerobic performance, when compared to consuming only water. When carbohydrate is consumed after a session, the subsequent restoration of performance is better than when compared to water, but the huge magnitude of the effect of consuming carbohydrate and protein is reduced to a moderate effect size when compared to carbohydrate-only recovery strategies.
In other words, don’t avoid food in between your sessions or races — the effects of eating carbohydrate and protein are huge. Training is your messenger that brings good things... “don't shoot the messenger”, in this case by inadequately fuelling between sessions and therefore not maximising your recovery.
How big an effect does sleep have on your performance?
Examining the effect of sleep on recovery/performance is a somewhat emerging area of research. There is not currently a systematic review of the topic. The data in Tables 2 and 3 have been extracted from the individual experimental studies that have examined the effect of sleep restriction/extension on exercise performance. These studies were described in my previous recovery posts on sleep and napping. Note that an effect size of less than 0.2 represents a trivial effect, 0.2 to 0.5 is small, 0.5 to 0.8 is moderate, 0.8 to 1.2 is large, 1.2 to 2.0 is very large, and above 2.0 is a huge effect. Where effect sizes were not presented in the original papers, I calculated “Cohen’s d” effects sizes from mean and standard deviation data or sample sizes and F-ratios/t-statistics.
Table 2 — the size of the effect of sleep restriction on the recovery of exercise performance.
-0.75 (large detrimental effect of sleep restriction vs. normal sleep) 0.58 (moderate beneficial effect of sleep extension vs. normal sleep) 1.22 (very large beneficial effect of sleep extension vs. sleep restriction)
1.22 (very large beneficial effect of sleep extension on skill) 0.92 (large beneficial effect of sleep extension on sprint speed)
Since humans spend half of their lives asleep, it is rather surprising that research in the effects of sleep restriction and extension on recovery has only recently become a topic of focus. For this reason, there is not currently a systematic review of the topic. However, the evidence to date, which I comprehensively evaluated in my posts on sleep and napping, shows that extreme sleep disruption for several days will have a huge detrimental effect on your performance but even just one night without sleep has a very large detrimental effect on muscle strength and a small to moderate detrimental effect on sprinting and endurance running performance.
Excitingly, adding just a couple of extra hours of zzz’s each night during several weeks of training will have a large to very large beneficial effect on your sprinting speed and sport-specific skill. The boost in skill is less dramatic after only a week of extra zzz’s but even only 1-week of extending your nightly sleep will have a moderate beneficial effect on your training-induced gains in muscle strength and endurance performance.
In short, never skip sleep and never cut sleep to train more — doing so will shoot the messenger. Better still, aim to increase your nightly zzz time to boost your training adaptations.
How sizeable is the effect of mental fatigue on your performance?
The data in Table 4 have been extracted from the systematic reviews that have examined the effect of mental fatigue (i.e. a lack of cognitive rest) on exercise performance. These studies were described in my previous recovery post on rest. Note that an effect size of less than 0.2 represents a trivial effect, 0.2 to 0.5 is small, 0.5 to 0.8 is moderate, 0.8 to 1.2 is large, 1.2 to 2.0 is very large, and above 2.0 is a huge effect.
Table 4 — the size of the effect of mental fatigue (i.e. a lack of rest) on subsequent exercise performance.
Meta-analysis of within-subjects studies examining the effect of prior cognitive exertion on physical performance.
No effect of mental fatigue on motivation during subsequent exercise but increased perceived exertion (RPE) and detrimental effect on subsequent exercise performance.
-0.27 (small effect of prior cognitive fatigue on performance).
The data, which I dug into in my previous post on rest, tell us that causing mental fatigue with challenging cognitive tasks in the hours before your workout or race will not affect motivation during a work-out but it will increase your perception of effort (RPE). Furthermore, mental fatigue can affect decision making related to the energy cost of continuing to exercise during a subsequent work-out. While prior mental fatigue has negligible effects on maximal anaerobic power, it will have small-to-moderate detrimental effects on your subsequent muscle strength and your subsequent endurance performance, including running time trial performance.
So, rest your mind to be ready to go again — otherwise, you will shoot the messenger. So, avoid tasks that cause mental fatigue prior to your sessions if you want to unleash your full potential.
How large is the “magical” effect of supplemental recovery modalities on the recovery of your performance?
The data in Tables 5 and 6 have been extracted from the systematic reviews described in my previous post on recovery magic and are available in my Recovery Magic Tool at veohtu.com/recoverymagictool. Note that an effect size of less than 0.2 represents a trivial effect, 0.2 to 0.5 is small, 0.5 to 0.8 is moderate, 0.8 to 1.2 is large, 1.2 to 2.0 is very large, and above 2.0 is a huge effect.
Table 5 — the size of the effect of supplemental recovery modalities on feelings of post-exercise fatigue or muscle soreness (DOMS).
Meta-analysis randomised controlled trials examining the effects of various modalities on DOMS.
Massage, Active recovery (moving), Compression, and Cold water immersion after exercise lowers the feeling of muscle soreness.
2.26 (huge beneficial effect of massage on DOMS)
0.94 (large beneficial effect of active recovery/moving on DOMS)
0.92 (large beneficial effect of compression on DOMS)
0.47 (small beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS)
Meta-analysis randomised controlled trials examining the effects of various modalities on DOMS.
Massage, Compression, and Cold water immersion after exercise lowered feelings of fatigue.
2.55 (huge beneficial effect of massage on feelings of fatigue)
1.16 (large beneficial effect of cold water immersion on feelings of fatigue)
0.88 (large beneficial effect of compression on feelings of fatigue)
Meta-analysis of 14 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of cold therapy on DOMS.
Cold water immersion after exercise lowers the feeling of muscle soreness for up to 96-hours after the bout.
0.35 (small beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS after 24-h)
0.67 (moderate beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS after 48-h)
0.60 (moderate beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS after 72-h)
0.63 (moderate beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS after 96-h)
Meta-analysis of 14 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of various modalities on DOMS.
Massage or cold water immersion after exercise lowers the feeling of muscle soreness.
0.33 (small beneficial effect of massage on DOMS after 24-h)
1.22 (very large beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS after 48-h)
2.11 (huge beneficial effect of cold water immersion on DOMS after 72-h)
Table 6 — the size of the effect of supplemental recovery modalities on the recovery of exercise performance.
Meta-analysis of 23 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of compression clothing on restoration of performance.
Wearing compression clothing after exercise improves restoration of running performance and muscle strength.
1.14 (large beneficial effect of compression on general performance recovery within 2- to 8-h
0.49 (small beneficial effect of compression on general performance recovery after 24-h
0.39 (small beneficial effect of compression on recovery of running performance after any amount of time)
0.49 (small beneficial effect of compression on recovery of strength performance after any amount of time)
Meta-analysis of 14 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of cold therapy on restoration of performance.
Cold water immersion after exercise restored muscle power for up to 72-hours after exercise.
0.65 (moderate beneficial effect of cold water immersion on recovery of muscle power within 24-h)
0.60 (moderate beneficial effect of cold water immersion on recovery of muscle power within 48-h)
0.54 (moderate beneficial effect of cold water immersion on recovery of muscle power within 72-h)
Meta-analysis of 14 randomised controlled trials examining the effects of various modalities on restoration of performance.
Massage after exercise impairs muscle strength 1-h later. Cold water immersion after exercise impairs muscle strength 24-h later.
-1.87 (very large detrimental effect of massage on muscle strength within 1-h)
-6.93 (huge detrimental effect of cold water immersion on strength within 24-h)
I took a deep dive into the evidence of “doing” your recovery with supplemental approaches in my post on recovery magic and in my Recovery Magic Tool. The data show us that either having a massage, wearing compression clothing, immersing yourself in cold water (aka an ice bath), or adding some active recovery (moving) can lower your “feelings” of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Massage, compression, and cold water immersion can also lower the “feelings” of fatigue following a work-out. The sizes of these beneficial effects on the feelings of post-exercise soreness and fatigue range from moderate to huge.
Impressive, but, as you know, “feeling” better doesn’t necessarily indicate “being” better when you get back out there. So, what about performance?
The evidence shows that wearing compression clothing after a work-out can improve the restoration of your running performance, muscle strength, and power, having a large beneficial effect if your next workout is within 2- to 8-hours, but just a small effect if your next workout is beyond that timeframe (up to 24-hours later). A cold water dip after a session will have a moderate beneficial effect on the recovery of your sprint performance and the restoration of your muscle power. Nothing else has a remarkable effect on restoring your performance, but some things certainly harm it — a post-session dip in cold water has a huge detrimental effect on muscle strength 24-hours later and a post-session massage will have a very large detrimental effect on your muscle strength measured within 1-hour — be careful what you choose to prevent shooting the messenger.
Now some clarity has emerged from the fog (and, maybe some of you are thinking, “I never knew statistics were so cool!”)...
Recovery = eat + sleep + rest + the occasional splash of magic.
To recover optimally between sessions, the summary of the effect sizes shows the evidence is in favour of eating, sleeping, and resting adequately being the key components of the recovery toolbox. A splash of magic can sometimes be of benefit, especially for feeling better or restoring your performance when you urgently need to be ready to go again within a few hours. But many of the magical modalities confer no benefit and some of them even harm your recovery, which indicates that you may indeed be playing with fire.
It is pretty clear — eat, sleep, and rest, and occasionally throw in a splash of magic but choose your magic carefully. This sentiment is echoed by the greats of the running world, people like Eliud Kipchoge. Even the All Blacks, the world’s greatest rugby team, rely on “old-fashioned” basics for preventative care and performance recovery. Peter Bills, author of The Jersey, quoted the All Blacks General Manager, Darren Shand, saying: “All our research shows that hot and cold compression, cryotherapy, and all those things, are not as effective as eating well and getting good sleep.” I couldn't agree more. But, isn’t it intriguing how often athletes overcomplicate their recovery and, consequently, destroy it? Not you — you train smart!
What do I mean? Firstly, someone with clinically-diagnosed iron deficiency may benefit from an iron supplement while someone with normal iron stores will not — context-dependency. Secondly, the above-described effect sizes have confidence intervals and estimates of heterogeneity — inter-individual variability — which indicate how variable the effects are between people. The effect size needs to be larger than zero but if the range of credible effect sizes — the confidence interval — crosses zero then the effect is too variable to have any confidence in it. The above-described evidence is based on overall effect sizes in which we are confident they are real and likely to happen in most people, but perhaps to different extents — you might, for example, gain a larger benefit from supplementing with ginger than I. But, I have a massive ginger beard and do not, therefore, have a ginger deficiency.
It is important to recognise that when comparing the effect sizes of the various approaches, you will only gain, at best, a small edge from the magic. Meanwhile, eating and sleeping have epic benefits. Yes, a small edge might be the difference between gold and silver. But, low energy availability (inadequate nutrition in relation to the demands of exercise), low carbohydrate availability, insufficient daily protein, and inadequate sleep will each massively decrease your ability to recover and perform or, worst-case scenario, even bring about forced cessation to exercise or health problems. That is the difference between appearing on the results sheet of your goal race or featuring as a DNF... or even putting you out of action for weeks, months, years, or forever. Therefore, optimal nutritional choices and sleep hygiene combined with well-planned and purposeful rest will supercharge your ability to live well, recovery optimally, and perform highly. Embrace that before playing with fire.
How can you train like a legend?
Before a work-out, your body is calm — it is in homeostasis. A work-out hits your homeostasis like a sledgehammer — “a disturbance in the force, there has been”. When your work-out is over, you will develop feelings of muscle soreness, you will feel fatigued, and your ability to perform again will be kaput.
Recovery is the process that restores homeostasis, allowing you to be ready to train (or race) again. Optimal training adaptations result from high-quality sessions combined with high-quality recovery.
The periods of “rest” in between the “stress” are where you eat, sleep, and relieve your body and your mind. This is the essence of my training philosophy. But this apparent simplicity is a facade to a wicked problem: the complex issue of balance — too much of either will materialise in disappointment. Too much exercise and too little recovery will blunt your adaptations and increase your risk of injury and acute illness. Too little exercise and too much recovery will barely tickle your molecular adaptations, and you will slip down the fitness slide while also increasing your risk of injury and acute illness and even chronic disease.
While no one can provide you with a blueprint for perfecting this balance, the abundance of knowledge available to you will help steer you well clear of tipping the scale in favour of the dark side. A useful way to help with this is to conceptualise your sessions and your recovery as:
One big rock versus a hundred pebbles.
One big workout a week won’t keep you fit or healthy. One big meal a week will not remedy terrible nutrition. One big sleep a week will not help you catch up on all those lost zzz’s. One big rest a week won’t keep your body fresh and your mind clear. And one big stint of magic a week will… well, who knows what that will do?!
So, to help keep you recovering and adapting again and again, I will summarise what we have learned on this epic run along the recovery trails...
Eat well, often.
Nutrition alone won't make a champion but poor nutrition will break one. One quality meal a week will not remedy terrible nutrition and dietary supplements are not a “quick fix”. Healthy eating will reduce your risk of developing nutrient deficiencies while also ensuring you are adequately fuelling your training and adequately recovering from and adapting to your sessions. But, keep your nutrition simple:
Try to ensure that healthy food choices are always available to you.
But, be flexible — if you have a bad day, don't stress, just get back on track as soon as you can.
Yes, things can go completely off-piste. So, if you have a tough time making good choices, consult a registered dietician/nutritionist. If you are concerned you may have nutrient deficiencies or are at risk of them, visit your doctor for a blood test. But, to help keep yourself on track, always prioritise the quantity and quality of your daily food intake rather than getting too focussed on precise grams at precise times of the day and get your life organised to distribute a variety of high-quality unprocessed whole foods throughout your waking day.
Sleep well, as long as you can.
No matter whether you are a morning lark or a night owl, your ultimate goal is to sleep long without interruption. One full night sleep a week — one big rock — won’t make up for several nights of “small pebbles”. Naturally, there are circumstances — like having a newborn — where interruption is unavoidable but sleep quality can always be improved:
Try to complete your harder sessions earlier in the day.
Avoid caffeine in the late-afternoon/evening and avoid alcohol/nicotine before bed.
Aim to adhere to a regular sleep schedule and practise a pre-sleep ritual to associate certain tasks with bedtime.
Make bedtime comfortable with a good mattress and pillow.
And, ensure that your bedroom is dark, silent, and cool.
But such sleep hygiene fixes are not always successful. If you have a chronic sleep problem, do not ignore it — consult your doctor and head to a sleep clinic ASAP. In the meantime, always make sleep a priority and never cut back on sleep to train more.
Rest your body and your mind.
Rest-intervals between your days, sessions, and hard efforts are for rest, not extra stress. Adequate rest for optimising recovery goes beyond cognitive fatigue. Resting your body as well as your mind is essential. Just like a 1-week meditative retreat once a year — one big rock — won’t remedy a lack of daily calm, one easy session every few months won’t remedy the increased fatigue and injury risk caused by persistent daily hard sessions — daily big rocks. Balancing your acute (recent) and chronic (long-term) training load is essential — you can learn about that in my previous posts at veohtu.com/trainingload and veohtu.com/trimp).
Optimal training load management keeps your performance on an upward trajectory with good planning, designing, and reviewing of what you will do and what you have done. You can learn to “be the architect of your training” in my previous three-part series (here, here, and here).
Yes, we need stress but stress needs rest to be overcome. Finding the right balance between the rocks and the pebbles is tricky but not impossible:
Strive for progressive overload and regular, consistent stimuli, with the aim of increasing your training volume and frequency and sometimes training hard.
But, be careful not to do too much, too soon, too hard, too often.
Help those in your life understand your need for rest.
Prioritise finding a few-minutes of daily “me” time to help rest your mind.
And, aim to avoid cognitively-demanding tasks before a key workout or race.
If planning, designing, and reviewing your training load is difficult for you, consult an experienced and qualified coach. If you are suffering from chronic stress, do not ignore it — visit your doctor ASAP. But, to help prevent things going too far down the wrong trail, find the balance between the rocks and the pebbles that works for you, and learn to recognise how much time you need between the rocks and pebbles.
An occasional splash of magic.
Magic might work if you “believe” it can. The psychology of feeling like you are recovering should never be underestimated. But magic that does not restore physiological function is unnecessary. And magic that causes physiological harm or psychological stress should be avoided.
When bombarded by enticing marketing campaigns, clarity can become obscured. But, you can arm yourself with a systematic approach:
Be open-minded but also be resilient to the Jedi mind-tricks of hype and marketing.
Stay informed with the evidence.
Be your own experiment to try to disprove the alleged outcome of the hyped magic.
Conduct a cost-benefit analysis:
→ If there is no benefit, there is no point.
→ If there is a benefit and no cost, you’d be foolish not to use it.
→ If the cost outweighs the benefit, do not proceed.
The tidal waves of supplemental approaches that are stuffed in our faces have overly-complicated recovery. But fear not… If you are a scientist, practitioner, coach, or athlete, to see clarity where there is obscurity, please make use of my Recovery Magic Tool, an organic document that summarises all known scientific evidence for all aspects of recovery.
So, after all that, one last question remains...
What should your recovery toolbox look like?
My intention with this series of posts was to help you fully understand how to fine-tune the recovery portion of your training to help get you ready to go again and again, keeping your performance trajectory heading upward until you reach your genetic potential.
I aimed to steer you through the fog and hope you have emerged into the light armed with the knowledge that eating well, sleeping lots, and resting between your sessions are the essentials. Some supplemental modalities like massage, compression, and cold water immersion can provide a magical touch by helping you “feel” more recovered by lowering feelings of muscle soreness, but their effects on those feelings may not matter when their effects on restoring performance are generally unimpressive and, in some contexts, some supplemental approaches even harm your recovery.
So, back to answering that question: “what do Gene Simmons and the best approach to recovery have in common?”
K I S S Keep It Simple, Stupid...
Thanks for joining me on this long “interval session” — you will need time to recover — but, before I go, I will leave you with some “recovery” food-for-thought to munch on every time you feel the need to replace your focus on optimising eating, sleeping, and resting with some random device, pill, or potion:
“Nutrition, sleep, and rest optimise recovery and adaptations universally, for everybody. Everything else is generally not as useful. Yes, the placebo effect is a real thing but just because something feels good in the short-term does not necessarily mean it is helping you in the long-term. A perceived feeling of recovery may be useful for peace of mind but it is the restoration of your “A” game level of performance that matters. Could your time, money, and resources being invested in “magic” be better spent on managing your training load and optimising your nutritional quality, sleep hygiene, and restful opportunities? Every minute you spend on random magic — or worrying about whether you should be using random magic — is a minute less spent on eating, sleeping, and resting well. That is a zero-sum game. Let your opponents play that game. Let your opponents take longer to recover while you out-smart them. Train hard. Recover harder. Be smarter.”
Thomas Solomon, PhD.
Disclaimer: I occasionally mention brands and products but it is important to know that I am not sponsored by or receiving advertisement royalties from anyone. I have conducted biomedical research for which I have received research money from publicly-funded national research councils and medical charities, and also from private companies, including Novo Nordisk Foundation, AstraZeneca, Amylin, the A.P. Møller Foundation, and the Augustinus Foundation. These companies had no control over the research design, data analysis, or publication outcomes of my work. Any recommendations I make are, and always will be, based on my own views and opinions shaped by the evidence available. The information I provide is not medical advice. Before making any changes to your habits of daily living based on any information I provide, always ensure it is safe for you to do so and consult your doctor if you are unsure.
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About the author:
I am Thomas Solomon and I'm passionate about relaying scientific information to the masses and helping folks meet their fitness and performance goals. I hold a BSc in Biochemistry and a PhD in Exercise Science and am an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist and Personal Trainer, a VDOT-certified Distance running coach, and a Registered Nutritionist. Since 2002, I have conducted biomedical research in exercise and nutrition and have taught and led university courses in biochemistry, molecular medicine, and exercise physiology. My work is published in over 80 peer-reviewed medical journal publications and I have delivered more than 50 conference presentations & invited talks at universities and medical societies. I have coached and provided training plans for truck-loads of athletes and regular folk, have competed at a high level in running, cycling, and obstacle course racing, and continue to run, lift, and climb as often as possible. To stay on top of scientific developments, I participate in journal clubs and peer-review papers for medical journals, and I invest every Friday in reading what new delights have spawned onto PubMed. In my spare time, I hunt for phenomenal mountain views to capture through the lens, boulder problems to solve, and for new craft beers to drink with the goal of sending my gustatory system into a hullabaloo.