What’s the difference between overtraining and under-recovery? In practice, probably very little. Fatigue, poor performance, and poor sleep are signs of both. When I last left you, I thought I was an overtraining wreck. Now, two months and a 6-week break later, I think under-recovery might be a more likely culprit.
According to this post on Core 3 Training, seven signs of under-recovery are:
1. Workouts seem more like work than training.
2. You’re weaker from week to week with the same movements.
3. You’re sore all the time.
4. Your spouse or friends keep asking what’s wrong with you.
5. You toss and turn at night.
6. Your heart rate is higher or lower than normal.
7. Your heart rate variability is less variable than normal.
During my workout hiatus, I ran the gamut of tests to determine the cause of my symptoms. Blood tests for ferritin, cortisol, and thyroid-type issues came back normal. As did an adrenal stress index (for the most part) and test for DHEA levels. Not at all shockingly, given Seattle’s record-breaking rainy winter, one thing that’s low is my Vitamin D. But that’s an easy fix. I have two full bottles of Vitamin D supplements from the last time someone told me to take them.
So what’s left? A giant hole in my recovery nutrition. Which probably plays a huge role in my sleep issues. This article on Breaking Muscle sheds more light on this subject:
Eat More. Food is essential to restore muscles after an intense workout. The harder you train, the more food you need to eat. The amount of fuel you eat will either make or break you, and far too often athletes under-eat for a few reasons:
Lack of preparation or planning.
Blunted hunger due to elevated cortisol (stress) levels from intense training.
Thinking they are eating enough.
I am only guilty of all of the above. After consulting with a nutritionist, I have a plan that consists of increasing not only overall intake, but carbs in particular. She uses this formula to calculate a competitive runner’s total carbohydrate needs:
3.6 to 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day
In other words, a shit ton. As much as I love bread, a person can only eat so much of it. But smoothies are a great way to add carbs, protein, and whatever else you want to add to your diet. I love this recipe that I’ve adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook. It totally rocks.
I can’t stop making this. It tastes like a chocolate milkshake and yet contains zero refined sugar. More importantly, it’s entirely whole food based, so you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
1 cup milk (whichever type you use)
2 medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 banana, peeled and frozen (I keep a ziploc bag of these in my freezer)
2 tsp. almond butter
splash vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 tsp. espresso powder (if desired)
4-6 ice cubes (less for a creamier shake, more for an icier one)
Combine everything in a blender and mix into the perfect recovery shake. You’ll need a good blender for this one. Happy recovery!