Defeat (or at least manage) Fatigue.

They say write what you need to read so I will be focusing on recovery in this blog, it’s literally ALL I’ve been thinking about for the past week. Alix and I just finished our first five-day practice week going full speed, plus it was our peak lifting week (where we lift the heaviest weight with more reps and are expected to lift it faster than during any other week of our program). USA Volleyball recently hired a new strength and conditioning coach for the beach program and he’s awesome, but I haven’t been this fatigued and sore in a long long time. And I’m really really excited about it! At the same time it means I have to step up my recovery game.

Physical and mental recovery is so important because it’s a compounding factor. If you don’t have a plan for it and don’t have a routine you can count on everyday you’re going to end up one day down the road feeling like crap, or worse, broken, and it’s going to take you longer to get out of that place than it took to get into it. Some practices are daily, some are depending on how I’m feeling, and some are once in a while because I know that if I don’t use them I’ll burn out. The most important thing about recovery, though, is that you have to make time for it, the time it takes does not magically appear everyday, so it’s usually a sacrifice, but a sacrifice well worth it. 

Take for example, this past Friday night, I was beyond fatigued, physically and mentally, and even emotionally. I had invites to go out, I had tasks I needed to check off my to-do list, I had books I wanted to read, but I couldn’t muster energy for any of it. I recognized how I was feeling (easy to do at that point) and just shut it all down, I literally laid in bed and stared at my phone for three hours then fell asleep. That was all I could do at that point, sacrifice those other things in the name of recovery because it was necessary after letting it get that far.  Then I got to thinking- what could I have done better throughout the week to ensure I didn’t end up feeling like this at the end of it?

I realized I need to create a daily check list of recovery methods. Even if I don’t feel fatigued that day it would be smart to get ahead of the curve (when I actually have the energy) because, like I said, fatigue is compounding. I know generally what I should be doing on the daily to feel most optimal, but I’ve found from experience, unless it’s written down on paper and there is some form of accountability, it’s pretty easy to skip a few steps. Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far:

Physical recovery: (which actually starts before any physical activity)

Minimum Daily

  • Make sure I’m properly fueled- eat balanced portioned meals before, after, and in between workouts.
  • Roll out and warm up well
  • Warm down afterwards- a couple of minutes spinning on the bike and a good stretch.
  • Drink lots of water, always have a gatorade with me and electrolytes if I expect to be sweating a lot. 
  • Replenish muscles with a Gatorade protein bar or shake after workout.
  • Go to bed before 11, or with enough time to get 8 hours of sleep, whichever is earlier.

If Time Allows

  • Normatec- it’s those spacesuit looking pants that fill up with air starting from your feet going up to your hips that essentially push out lactic acid from your muscles.
  • Epsom salt bath- everyone is different, but I’m beyond sold on these for recovery and detoxification. If I have an ache or pain or I’m just sore, nothing is as effective for me as an epsom salt bath.
  • Savasana- or a form of it, for 10-15 minutes. You can lay with your legs up the wall, or with your spine lengthwise on a long roller letting all your limbs flail out to the sides, or just lay flat while completely relaxed.

Weekly

  • Bikram Yoga- nothing makes me feel better than this form of yoga.
  • Physical Therapy with Tony Poland (the BEST massage therapist EVER)

Monthly

Mental Recovery: (now this starts to get personal, there are some general practices good for everyone, but you’ll need to find what works for you in a lot of instances)

Minimum Daily

  • Coffee, as much of it as you want. (This one might be personal ;))
  • “Me time” to do something just for myself, whether it be write, read, put a face mask on, or take a nap (on a really good day)
  • Meditate for 6 minutes minimum (can be combined with ‘me time’)

If Time Allows

  • Watch a favorite movie or binge a little on Netflix
  • Bikram Yoga
  • Grab dinner with a friend

Yearly

  • Go on a non-volley vacation and don’t work out.

There’s definitely an emotional component to fatigue as well. If something is going on emotionally, it’s key to address it for full recovery, along with the mental and physical aspects. How each person deals with this part of fatigue is very personal so I won’t pretend to know how anyone else should go about it, but I wanted to share some of my own practices for defeating emotional fatigue.

Emotional Recovery

Daily

  • Take a moment to check in with yourself to see what you’re feeling and why, and how it’s manifesting in your life.
  • If you know why you are feeling a negative emotion or are just run down and you can do something about it, do one thing to help yourself move in the positive direction.
  • Be gentle with yourself and accept that sometimes you’re going to be hangry, apologize.
  • In moments of emotional discrepancy, check in with your grounding values, are you acting in line with them? You can feel however you feel and still treat people well.
  • “Me time” applies here as well, big time.

Weekly

  • Hang out with someone you can be completely honest with and share what might be going on that has you on edge, anxious, or sad, etc, if anything. If nothing, listen to them vent.
  • Bikram Yoga
  • Journal- explore the feeling surrounding what’s going on in your life, sometimes solutions appear just from this and more often than not just the clarity you gain is enough to help deal with emotional overload.

If Severe

  • Call a professional.

I encourage you to try out some of these methods for yourself and see if practicing them regularly has a positive effect on you like I know it does for me! Let me know if you have any suggestions for recovery in these areas in the comments, I would enjoy learning some new ones, thanks!

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