In the last installment we spoke about some things in your control that you can employ to help you unwind, recover, and destress. Focusing on factors within your ability to control is key. Accepting that some things are outside of your control, although a tough pill to swallow, is crucial. Knowing the difference between the two is one of the benefits of age and the experience that it brings. As we’ve said, “you’re not as old as you’re gonna be” and there are some natural consequences that come along with that fact. With age comes wisdom and a broader view of things which you can use to your advantage to prolong not only your time in the fitness game, but by extension, your quality of life as well.
You’ll need more time between intense bouts of exercise to fully and optimally recover from them.
This is NOT suggesting a need to go online and find some special flower programming for old fogies, though there is no shortage of people willing to separate you from your money to sell you one. Arguably, the greatest benefit of doing CrossFit is being a part of a fitness minded community. Always doing your own thing during open gym times removes a pretty large chunk of that benefit. That being said, a “3 On, 1 Off” style programming template could do with some tweaking to serve you best at this point. Some gyms already program regular “Deload” weeks and regular “Not For Time” work, which serve very well to allow for lower intensity/less ballistic work. Take full advantage of these days/weeks when they come up and resist the temptation to go rogue and “do a little burner” outside of what’s been programmed. You want to take the rest before a bum shoulder lets you know you need it, right? If your gym doesn’t do this sort of thing, you’ve got a few options that will keep you attending regular group classes at your facility while getting the active rest you need.
3 On, 1 Off
“Wait a minute, but you just said…”. What I mean here is to plan take every 4th (or so) week of group programming at your gym easy. Make it a deload week. It doesn’t even have to be the full week, 3 or 4 days is pretty good too. Planning ahead for when this time will be gives you less mental wiggle room than playing it by ear on a day to day basis. You can plan ahead and have some wiggle room with the week you pick for this. Say for instance that your 4th week will fall on Memorial Day weekend, when your gym runs a community-wide Murph, complete with grilled meats and frosty cold beverages. Looking ahead and knowing this, you can enjoy the day and move your deload back a week. Come to think of it, taking it easy the week post Murph sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Abide, dude. For the most part, plan these weeks out ahead of time and stick to them even when you don’t feel like you need it. Think of it as a smart investment. You put a little time into the recovery bank now and it’ll be there to pay out dividends later on in your golden years.
Regularly Self Prescribed Lower Intensity Days
This is as “simple” as taking it easy in class every 3-4 programming days. If Fran is programmed, break it up more and purposefully keep your heart rate down. If it’s a 1RM deadlift day, work 5 perfect singles at 70% with a “faster up, slower down” tempo. Morrison programmed for your lower intensity day? How convenient… do half the volume and aim to finish in around the same time it usually takes you to complete the full 450 reps. You can sort of play this by ear and listen to your body when it whispers to you that it needs some rest. This option works best for those who have the self discipline to actually take it easy, not the ultra competitive alpha type who will always try to beat their gym frenemies scores. Those for whom every “hit a heavy single” day somehow becomes a true max effort day ending in a string of missed lifts- you will probably not do well using this approach. The prevalence of exactly this type of person is the reason for the quotation marks around the word “simple” in the first sentence. If you find yourself letting a full week go by without taking an easy day because you felt great and really-really-really just wanted to go hard on “this one”, this is not a good strategy for you. It also shouldn’t be an excuse to cherry pick your off days and avoid the stuff you suck at (hmmm… cough… run 5k). Know thyself.
Take A Hike!
Your time off doesn’t have to be spent on the couch. As Pat Sherwood posts on all CrossFit Linchpin Rest Days, get out of the gym! Get away from working on your fitness and spend some time outside enjoying your fitness. Regularly schedule time away from a barbell or a pull up bar. You (hopefully) don’t suffer in the gym for the sake of it, but for the level of fitness that you gain from all that hard work. A walk in the woods, a bike ride through some trails or around town, paddling around in the water, rock climbing at your local spot, or heck even bowling are just some ideas that will test that fitness you work so hard developing. That wingsuit lesson you’ve been telling yourself you want to take? Do it. Put it in your calendar, put some money down towards it, and make it a pr*iority. Make a list of three new non-gym things you want to try this year, or things that you want to do more of. What makes your list?
3, 2, 1, Rest
Are you’re sensing a theme so far in this series? More, it turns out, is not really more. Less is more, and you need more of it. Wait, what? Now I’ve confused myself but I think you know what I mean. Keep perspective on why you’re doing CrossFit in the first place. Enjoy life outside of the gym. Prioritize recovery with rest and you’ll have a much better chance of not being forced into an extended recovery from an injury.