Time flies when you’re making gains. Summer is just about over, and hopefully you’re leaner, faster and more powerful than you were 12 weeks ago. Now comes the ever-so-important part of your fall transition — the deload.
You’ve been skating, training and doing additional dryland conditioning at least five days a week for most of your summer. Your body needs a full reprieve from the intense exercise more than any- thing in the world. By off, I mean nothing. No skating. No lifting weights. No aerobic exercise. By trusting this process, you will enable your central nervous system to re-fire faster, stronger and more efficiently than ever before as you head into your winter season.
The rules are simple. Your primary focus for seven days is to reduce the levels of joint inflammation, promote tissue healing and facilitate mental relaxation. If you’re willing to sacrifice sleep, fun and friendships for working hard, you can work hard to infuse your life with sleep, fun and friendships to enhance recovery. The key to huge gains is less work — but just for seven days.
The following daily plan is a general guideline to full recovery. Deviate as you wish but stick to the principals of the task at hand as much as possible. Do some or all of what I’m about to discuss each day and do it with purpose. The quality of your recovery process will determine the efficiency of your next strength training phase.
Sleep eight hours each night. Not a minute more and not a minute less. Your brain is an organ, not a muscle. You need to be awake for it to fire signals to your body and to comprehend the signals coming back to it. Unlike a muscle, blood flow alone won’t help this organ regenerate. You’ll need to get smart. Go grab the morning paper and take a crack at the crossword puzzle. Enjoy a fresh bowl of dark berries to battle your inflammation, scrambled egg whites to promote protein synthesis, and your first 20 ounces of water for the day. You’re off to 128 ounces — that’s one gallon.
Next, head out for a mid- morning walk. Don’t speak. Be mindful. Focus on what each step feels like, the noises you hear and the scents in the air. Breathe calmly in rhythm, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Ob- serve the people around you and look for opportunities to provide acts of kindness. Research proves that being kind to other people yields a sense of self gratification and increased self-esteem. Never miss an opportunity to be kind.
On your way to yoga, call a relative you have not been in touch with for a while. Share your life events and inquire into their life as well. Reach into the middle console cupholder and grab a handful of salted almonds. You’re about to sweat quite a bit during your mission to promote flexibility through activate meditation. Drink another 20-ounce bottle of water and you’ll be one-third of the way there.
After yoga, pop over to your local café, Whole Foods or Sweetgreen and grab a salad, a lean protein source and a dark berry smoothie. You’re not exercising this week, so you’ll need to really focus on keeping your diet clean. Take the food to go. Find a local park with trees, have a seat on the ground and take in a plentiful amount of vitamin D-infused sunshine while you enjoy your lunch.
En route to your deep-tissue sports massage, you can enjoy another 20 ounces of water. Listen to some classical music on one of your streaming apps or satellite radio. Try to clear your mind of pop culture, aggressive beats and chaotic sounds. Roll the windows down, drive calmly and relax.
As you drive your knees into the soft massage table in angst from the pain, remember, deep-tissue massage breaks up adhesions, promotes a natural anti-inflammatory response and improves over- all pliability. In this instance, suck it up.
On your trip back home, ask mom and dad if they need anything done to make their life easier. Pick up some groceries, gas up the car or swing by the dry cleaners. This is your attempt to disassociate from the world of competition and enter a world of familial. Drink 20 more ounces of water. When you get home, take a shower. Hot water first to open the pores and free the toxins, soap next to clean inside them, and rinse with cold to close them up. No carbs after 7 p.m. and always double veggies on your plate. Drink 20 more ounces of water.
When you head to bed for the evening, take two ice packs with you for your sorest joints. Turn on a night light, open a book and wind down from the day. Tomorrow is a new day — another day to awaken, rejuvenate, regenerate and appreciate. If you want to be good, don’t take days off. If you want to be great, rest, and drink your last 28 ounces of water.