Number One In Your Training Regime?

by | Mar 4, 2017 | General Knowledge

This Blog is a follow on from my previous Blog, “Back to Back; how to survive the QS grind”. Recently I screened surfers competing in the Flight Centre Burleigh Pro and Telstra Stores Tweed Coast Pro Qualifying Series (QS) Events. Fatigue was a key issue amongst the surfers that I screened. If you haven’t read this blog yet, maybe check it out.

As advised in my previous blog, whenever fatigue is an issue, I question an athlete’s recovery strategies. In my experience, there are as many recovery strategies as there are athletes and these strategies need to be individualised. Let’s start with understanding what recovery is and why I consider it to be so important.

What is Recovery?

The Oxford Dictionary defines recovery as “A return to a normal state of health, mind or strength”.

The idea of returning, is very important. Returning allows you to come back to a state of ‘norm’ and allows your body to recover from a period of stress. The idea of ‘normal’ though is a little bit frustrating; after all, what is ‘normal’? ‘Health’, ‘mind’ and ‘strength’ as well, have different meanings for individuals. Recovery requires a context, a framework, something that allows athletes to understand what their ‘normal’ is.  Performance indicators can provide that context and allow you to determine your state of ‘health’, ‘mind’ and ‘strength’. Exercise Physiologists/Scientists use indicators such as blood samples, urine samples, heart rate measures, core temperature analysis and psychological scales to determine and athletes ‘norm’ and whether their recovery is adequate. Other indicators can include muscle testing, which can give you an indication of how responsive your muscles are and the strength of their signalling.  As a travelling athlete, though, how can you have your own performance indicators to help you determine your recovery needs?

Performance Indicators You Can Use as a Competing Surfer

Below are some examples of ‘performance indicators’ you can use to measure your recovery

  • Urine colour: will give you an indication of how hydrated or dehydrated you are
  • Fatigue index: will indicate your level of subjective (self-reported) fatigue
  • Muscle tightness: can indicate overuse patterns and muscles that need to be released. May indicate overtraining or issues with waste product clearance and potential nutritional deficiencies
  • How you feel when you are surfing: I ask surfers how co-ordinated they feel, how confident/responsive they feel; how their pop-up feels, if they have any pain with paddling, how explosive/powerful they feel, how on cue/focussed they feel – a slower responsiveness and general reduction in co-ordination, reduction in power output and mental ‘fogginess’ can be indicators of fatigue.

man on haunches after running on the beach

Test and Measure

Don’t wait until competition day to figure out your recovery needs. I always encourage athletes to test and measure their recovery strategies during their training period. This allows a further tweaking of any strategies such as recovery drinks, active rest and nutritional strategies. You will also be able to trial exercises and breathing methods and fine tune these for competition day. Previously, I have mapped my sleep pattern so that I knew how many hours of sleep I needed to be on top of my game. Eight hours exactly, nothing more and nothing less. You want to get an understanding of your normal readings. You then know if anything is out of order and can rectify it before you put the jersey on.

Why is Recovery Important?

Adaptations from training cannot take place when energy is being used for training. Please read that sentence again. Adaptation occurs during times of rest and when ADEQUATE recovery is allowed. I have highlighted the word ADEQUATE because I honestly feel recovery is underestimated by athletes and coaches. It can be the difference between winning multiple events and having an inconsistent season or burn out.  I have seen youth swimmers primed for the commonwealth games fall apart due to overtraining and poor recovery strategies. Not only did these swimmers fall apart in the pool, their external life, schooling and future employment were affected.

Training loads need to be enough to stimulate adaptation. If recovery is inadequate though, the opposite may occur. Athletes may ‘fail to adapt’ to their training stimulus. Plateaus in performance may creep in or performance may reduce.

Adequate recovery…

  • Allows training adaptation to occur and improvements in performance capacity
  • Reduces risk of residual fatigue, chronic fatigue and overtraining
  • Reduces the risk of injury and illness
  • Allows for the clearance of waist products within the cells (e.g. lactic acid)
  • Reduces prolonged muscles soreness
  • Allows for well-co-ordinated movement
  • Allows for continued power output

Recovery is a detailed topic and an important component of any athlete’s training program. There are ways to structure your training to ensure that your recovery is adequate. In this way, you provide yourself the opportunity to perform at your peak every heat, every competition. Awareness is the key and the starting point. Really take note of how you are feeling and think about some of the indicators I have mentioned. Within the surf conditioning workshops, I educate surfers on how to put together a training program from woe to go. Recovery is included in this. Workshop details are on the website. If you would like more information and support, please email me

Relaxing in the ocean in the rain next to surfboard

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