Energy: Where it has gone and how to get it back (Part II)
We all know what it feels like to be full of energy and often times we think it is only available to the young. Each year we struggle to find the same level of energy we had the previous year. Where does our energy go? Is it really our age, or can we get it back?
Although age is a factor, I have found it to be a small factor. After just turning 49 I am running as fast as I was when I was 45 despite undergoing major knee surgery in March of 2011, and 13 previous surgeries after I was hit by a semi-truck while cycling at age 20.
I have found four factors that affect energy levels the most: diet, training, rest, and stress. This article focuses on the second area where we tend to lose energy: training.
Training: Undertraining & Overtraining
There is a wealth of information on training available from a variety of sources such as personal trainers, fellow athletes, friends, and publications. Ultimately, you are your best source of knowing how much is too much, and how much is too little. In my experience most people over-train but there are many people that under-train as well.
Weekend warriors are often undertraining. When the weekend comes, you go out and hit it hard without training during the week. This leaves you sore or hardly able to walk for a few days. This is not a good way to approach sports, become an athlete, or be healthy. Demanding your body to perform on an all-or-nothing basis stresses the body because there is no rhythm or understanding as to why you are requiring strength, energy, and power. Additionally, your body is unable to store the necessary fuel and hydration needed.
By stressing the body, weekend warriors are likely to endure some injuries along the way. From injuries the body can develop bad habits that may never go away, and that can lead to additional stress and compensations in the body. All of this requires energy. Energy to strain, energy to perform the task, and energy to survive the challenges we are faced with. It is important to develop a weekly routine to prepare your body for the weekend that is manageable, easy to maintain and enjoyable.
To avoid overtraining, establish a variety of ways in which you can build your strength and endurance. For example, I find the best running formula for me is 4-5 days of running rather than seven. This gives my muscles the time they need to repair, heal, and recover to maintain their strength and stamina. If you do not allow time for recovery (like if you are running 6-7 days a week), you are overtraining and damaging your body. For swimming, I recommend 2-4 times a week and for biking, 3-4 times a week. Anytime you do a particular activity or sport more than five times a week, you are most likely overtraining. Pushing a body that hasn’t had time to rest, repair, and restore will require more energy.
My next article will cover the third that affects energy: rest.
Sharon Starika is a runner and triathlete with over 20 years of competitive racing experience. She is a Guild Feldenkrais Practitioner and lives in Park City, Utah where she has a private practice. She teaches classes and clinics around the country and offers instructional online workshops so people interested can practice her methods anywhere.
For contact information go to www.sharonstarika.com or
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