Active vs. Passive Rest
by, March 3rd, 2010 at 07:18 PM (1413 Views)
A friend and I were talking about rest, overtraining, and related issues today. It got me thinking about rest and the individualization of rest again. While thinking about this, I came across the following article:
Several years ago, I remember a former SEC running coach told me that for recovery, he suggested "recovery runs" for some runners and no running for others. I asked him why the different approaches and he said that it depended on the personality of the runner. He explained that some individuals are so intense that even when they think they are "taking it easy," in reality they aren't. Such individuals are good candidates for HR training so they are reminded to take it easy. Still, he said these individuals would rationalize reasons why they should get their HR up higher. With such individuals, he said the benefit of a recovery run was outweighed by the likelihood of overtraining and bad technique perpetuated by "slow running."
I asked him about doing other activities such as swimming, biking, etc. He said that was o.k. as long as the athlete went easy, but even for some, there sometimes needed to be a day during the week where they didn't "exercise." His theory was that such individuals, even on their "non-exercise" days, were still going to be active enough to not get stiff.
Lately, I've thought about what he has said and it makes sense. I may take a day off from exercise, but I certainly would not call it "passive rest." For example, I teach a class at the college and where I park requires me to climb five flights of stairs up a hill. I work on the second floor, so once I enter the building, I am once again required to go up the steps. Since I am an adjunct and don't have an office at the college, I lug a bunch of stuff around with me - the book for the class, graded papers, a notebook containing all of my lecture notes. While I teach my class which lasts 75 minutes, I pace back and forth as I talk (standing perfectly still for this amount of time would cause me to faint). After class, walk back to my car and drive home. Once home, I walk my dog in the backyard (we live on close to 8 acres). Once inside, time to start household chores - laundry, etc. At some point, I will be lifting items to be put away, bending over to pick up things off the floor that should not be there, and then once again, I will walk the puppy. Once it warms up, I'm sure I'll be pulling a few weeds, sweeping the front steps, or picking up branches.
I would hardly call such days "passive rest" days. Is there really such a thing with individuals who have an active life? I think not unless they have no responsibilities and can sleep all day in front of the t.v.
To keep my back from getting stiff, I did my yoga stretches and torso twists a little while ago. Guess this took about 15 minutes. I don't think I would be well-served to go do a "recovery swim." I don't think it would do me any good to run, lift weights, or do an exercise class. I'm just too intense of a person for it to do me any good on my "off day."
I wonder if older athletes with lots of responsibilities can really follow the routine of professional type athletes who don't have other jobs or kids to take care of (if they have kids, they have people hired to take care of their kids). For professional athletes, an active rest day where they do some low intensity exercise is great for them, but in the life of some masters swimmers, a normal day in their life without the usual exercise (swimming, running, lifting weights, cycling, exercise classes such as CrossFit, P9OX, etc.) is still an active rest day.
I think I as well as many masters athletes are quick to get overtrained because when we should completely take a day off from our usual exercise, we still find some way to do a workout and call that day a "recovery day with active rest."