Mindset and Recovery

A load of bollocks

That’s honestly what I used to think of mindset, meditation, yoga, stretching, active recovery, sleep. Until I started reading and learning more about it and finding out how interesting these components were to not just life but all aspects of training.

I am a complete novice when it comes to all these elements but I am learning more and more and the huge benefits of these.

I’ll tell you something, playing rugby for years does absolutely nothing for your mobility and flexibility.

When I started Hotpod yoga about 2 years ago it was embarrassing how un-mobile I was. Believe me as well, I’d be at home thinking I was flexible before I stated going to Hotpod but it opened my eyes to how strong these individuals were (I will never ever call them yogi’s – I mean, fuck off). Not just strong though, flexible, mobile, relaxed – I was impressed (and hooked)

My strength was increasing week by week just from doing yoga, something i’d never considered. An hour of Hotpod and I was burning (according to my Garmin H/R watch) > 500 calories and I felt it. Some of the poses and stretches were really challenging but I was loving it. Funnily enough although sessions were difficult, by the end of the session when we wind down I felt so relaxed it literally changed my day. If I could, and yoga was more accessible I’ve found it so effective i’d give up 2 weights sessions a week to go to a yoga class and I’m convinced my strength would improve and not decline.

This was the inspiration to start exploring other methods of relaxation, mindset and recovery.

I began using ‘Headspace’ meditation app and loved it but moved to another app ‘Calm’ purely for expense – It was a quarter of the price. For beginners i’d say ‘Calm’ is fine but I  ‘Headspace’ is just brilliant and worth the eventual £75 a year membership. Just to take 10 minutes to myself and meditate daily actually makes my day a lot more positive in all areas. Something to think about perhaps?

When I began looking at mindset before training, meditation came into it as well. When I say meditation its as basic as breathing exercises and concentration. It doesn’t mean floating on a magic carpet.

Visualising the workout and relaxing before going into the gym has helped my training hugely. I used to give up halfway through anything challenging but changing my mindset before training has actually helped me during the session. Now if I have a tough session coming up, I will visualise myself crushing that workout whilst performing simple breathing exercises – two seconds breathing in, two seconds breathing out and concentrating on my breath so I stay focused.

When it came to workouts I was never one to recover well enough. I very rarely stretch after working out and it is so important for everyone if they want to perform to a good standard. Only recently I have started taking my recovery seriously and now I ensure I take at least 15 minutes at the end of a session to foam roll and stretch.

My Daily mobility

Stretching – post workout (2 min per stretch per side)

Pigeon strethch
Couch stretch
Chest/shoulder stretch
Banded lat stretch

Foam rolling (1 min per area per side)

ITB
VMO
Glutes
Lats

(YouTube the stretches)

I have also began taking my sleeping a lot more serious. Over the past few months now I have experimented and I now know I need 7.5/8 hours and I’m really going at my day being positive and productive. I used to sleep a lot less, accepted 5/6 hours a night and never really considered this was impacting my training and productivity but it without a doubt was. Sleeping less I found I wouldn’t train in the morning, then I would struggle to go in the evening but getting the right sleeping plan and using ‘Headspace’ to do this has definitely helped my training.

I will definitely be continuing my journey to learn more and research more in this pillar of training. Nutrition is one pillar, exercise and health another pillar and then there is recovery and sleep. I’d imagine the third pillar is easily the most overlooked by everyone but perhaps as I learn more the most undervalued by far.

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