Even the fittest athletes need to recover

Those who are really close to me will tell you that I am extremely stubborn. And when I say I’m stubborn, I’m referring to my fitness routine.

All my life, I’ve pushed, scrapped and clawed through every injury imaginable. My senior year of high school, I limped to the end of my cross-country season on one good knee thanks to tendinitis. Five years later, I messed up the same knee playing basketball and went on a subsequent Valentine’s Day date with my leg in a cast. And the day after my wedding, I fractured my big toe, at Fenway Park of all places.

After suffering the latter of those injuries, I never missed a BodyPump class or a single scheduled workout. I’m not the type who likes to sit on the sidelines and watch. I’d much rather be in the game, unless I’m on crutches or my deathbed.

What am I getting at here? It’s one thing to be dedicated, work your ass off and give 110 percent on a daily basis. Trust me, I do that every time I’m on the gym floor, participating in GRIT workouts or the 2-4 times a week I’m on the BodyPump stage. However, no matter how hard you go, taking it easy is always an important part of any training regime.

That is something I preach to my members on a daily basis, but sometimes, I admit I need to follow my own advice. I did that to an extent this past weekend, not doing any physical activity – save for dancing at my friend’s wedding Saturday night – knowing I had to teach four BodyPump classes between Monday and Wednesday.

A Men’s Fitness article shared by one of my trainer friends, Alex Kattar, who had the pleasure of being one of my GRIT coaches in New Orleans, woke me up to a degree. The article listed 12 signs that men might be overtraining, from fatigue to depression.

On quite a few occasions over my athletic career, I’ve certainly been guilty of overtraining. When I trained for my first half-marathon in 2008, I would put in two workouts a day on some days to make sure my mileage was where it should be. When I first did AIM II for Pump in 2012, I upped my workout intensity big-time and by the time I got to Virginia, I was overanxious and worn out and made silly mistakes.

As a Les Mills fitness professional, I would never, ever, ever recommend to any of my clients or members to do BodyPump on back to back days, much less twice a day. But sometimes, we as instructors have to adjust to what our schedules throw at us. Personally, I enjoy subbing in time slots that are not my own. It gives me a chance to showcase my talent and give a group of clients a workout that I wouldn’t normally see during my afternoon and early evening time slots.

The bottom line here is, no matter how hard you want to work, no matter how much weight you want to lift, or fast you want to run or cycle, there’s only so much punishment the human body can take. If you do it smartly and efficiently, you’ll find yourself achieving the results that you desire. An example: U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks continued to give his 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team hard practices heading into their showdown with the Soviet Union, and we all know what happened in Lake Placid that February. Herb worked his team hard, but he did it smartly, and that team was extremely well-conditioned.

Keep training insane, but do it smartly. Establish a routine and stick with it. You’ll be surprised the results you can get if you simply take a day off to recharge your batteries.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.