As an elite athlete, I had to develop a healthy relationship with active recovery. Before I got to college, my ‘recovery days’ had nothing to do with anything active. I used the day as an excuse to be extra lazy, convincing myself that I was taking proper rest. Most times, I just ended up feeling more sluggish and de-motivated than I did at the end of a tough week of training. Once I got to college, I all but abandoned the ‘active recovery’ day and opted to get in an extra high intensity workout. I didn’t take days off because I was worried about not doing enough and falling behind; I ended up draining my tank and hit burnout by the end of my first season.
I had experienced the polar opposites of not managing my physical and mental recovery; too much rest left me feeling a lack of motivation to get back into my high performance habits and no rest led me to exhaustion and burnout, mentally and physically.
Active recovery for the high-achieving brain sounds like quicksand; a slippery slope towards mediocre, low-performance. For the high-performance brain, active recovery sounds like a re-charge, a time to take stock of what’s going well, what needs our attention, and a time to re-invest in our physical bodies and restore our mental state.
Now, instead of laying around and doing nothing on an active recovery day, I may go on a walk, a light jog with my dogs, a bike ride, take some time in a sauna, or do some yoga. Ultimately, I take time to do something physically, that makes my body feel good and mentally, allows me to move without intense thoughts about performance, and allows my mind to take a break.
What does your active recovery (physical or mental) look like? Are you pushing yourself too hard? Or are you noticing that your ‘recovery’ days are draining your motivation for the week ahead?