So here’s the thing, I’m going to tell you a brief story to illustrate just what I’m trying to get across to you very clearly! So, over the Olympics I spent a lot of time at the global coaches house. So I’m listening to Dean Benton (Performance Director at Brumbies Rugby and super-smart fella) talking about how he gets the best from his lads.
The talk is really interesting with Dean covering many of the areas he has worked on and talking about mistakes he’s made and things that have gone well etc.
We come to the topic of recovery. Now for those of you who have read my thoughts on recovery you know I like to keep things simple (like anything else for that matter) . Fortunately, so does Dean. In fact, he listed the single most important component in your recovery programme.
More important than any other factor……
So important that games are won and lost because of it…….
So what is it?
I’m sure you guessed it (or know it already)…..
But it’s certainly worth revisiting (every day in fact!)
Yes you got it…..
Yes sleep is THE most important component of any programme when it comes to recovering ready to go the next day.
That’s not to say you can discount other factors such as nutrition, active recovery etc. No, not at all, but those methods are not as important as sleep.
Need some convincing? Check out this review of a lot of papers on the subject. Research has shown that sleep deprivation has a major impact on cognitive and physiological function. It’s also shown that increased sleep up to 10 hours per night instead of 8 actually improves performance.
Now here’s a personal tale to illustrate this further (although perhaps not for the science geeks who read this blog!).
Fast forward 3 or 4 weeks to last week. It’s a Tuesday evening and stupidly I’ve had a black coffee at literally 3pm that day. I say stupidly as I’m still buzzing at 9pm and my Mrs is getting pissed at me because I keep talking about the new ideas I’ve got when she just wants to chill out for the night. Anyway she goes to bed and I end up working till about 3am Wednesday morning.
This is okay when it comes to productivity, but not when it comes to recovery, as I normally train my lower body on a Wednesday morning.
So I finally get off to sleep and get about 4 hours before I’m up and heading into work for about 9am Wednesday morning. I feel fine at this point, so I end up training at around 11am that morning when I can grab a free hour in the gym.
I start with a basic session with some DB split squats and goblet squats to get the blood flowing in my legs. I’m only using light weights but its hurting already!
I then move to the barbell and already I’m thinking this is going to be a bad day! So I go for Stiff Legged Deadlifts as these are less fatiguing than squats, split squats or deadlifts.
I literally get up to about 70kg in comparison to somewhere around 100kg and I’m flagging big style.
So I allow myself to take a set off the total, throw in some dumbell single leg stuff and decide to call it a day. The session was rubbish and I knew it!
But this was the thing, even though I had finished the session early with far less volume and intensity than usual I felt ruined for the rest of the afternoon. Quite clearly I need to catch up on some sleep.
And that experience caused me to write this blog. Not only had it taken me to listen to someone who’s been looking into this stuff in detail and actually is applying it with his athletes, I had to experience it personally before I forced myself to reflect on what had happened. This seems a little silly to me.
So my messages for you today are these:
1. Think about monitoring sleep and considering it the most important of all the recovery modalities to get right in your coaching and your athletes.
2. Consider it a priority for yourself if you’re anything like me and work lots of hours. Sort your life out and get some recovery sleep in.
3. Don’t make yourself go through it like I did before you learn! (This applies to anything)