Here are some of the basics of what it takes to get your body ready and able to ‘hit it again’ at your next training session.
Water. When the most common component of your body is water (over 60%), it deserves the #1 spot in importance.
If your urine is clear or slightly tinged with color, you are in the right zone of water consumption. Anything darker shows you need more H2O.
‘Sports drinks’ with sugar and chemicals are not the hydration your body needs, and they put stress on your organs. Pure, naturally sourced water is the best choice to give back what you’ve lost in sweat and urine.
A few drops of electrolytes and minerals in your water bottle is a great idea and less expensive than sports drinks. A lemon or lime squeezed into your water gives the natural flavor zest and pH boost you need to remain alkaline.
Body pH. There is an optimum ratio of acid to alkaline in all living things and environments. The optimum pH for Mother Ocean and for our body’s cells is the same, around 6.9. As stress, poor diet and lack of water increase acidity, they decrease our body’s ability to perform.
I recommend getting some urine strips to check your urine’s pH. This will give a general indicator of pH levels and let you know if changes need to be made.
Diet. There is always someone coming up with a new wrinkle in what - and what not - to eat. But the one through-line is that eating a mostly plant-based diet is almost universally accepted as the optimum base for replenishing cells. We don’t need nearly as much protein as we’ve become accustomed to, and getting the micro-nutrients our bodies need through organic produce is better than relying completely on vitamin tablets to do the job for us (particularly if we are eating the Standard American Diet (SAD)).
Plant-based diets also help keep the pH of our cells in optimum balance, and reducing inflammation through diet modification is now a clarion call throughout medicine and popular culture.
Sleep. The average person needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. It doesn’t have to be all in one continuous period. Get your sleep hours any way you can, even if it means taking a nap mid-day. A short nap is incredibly restorative for most folks. Don’t listen to other people when they tease you for needing a nap. American culture is slowly “waking up” to the beauty of a little shut-eye during the day. Whole cultures are based upon the mid-afternoon time-out, as in the ‘siesta’ period in Spain and Mexico. Very enlightened.
All that said, studies show that sleep deprivation during the week can be made up by sleeping in on the weekends. Any way you can, just get it.
Stretching and Massage. The best methods of stretching and massage are the ones that you will do regularly – ideally, every day. So try everything! Yoga, Pilates, etc. There are so many myofascial self-care massage tools out there designed to regain range of motion. Foam rollers, Armaid, Theracane, etc., etc. Borrow your friend’s therapy tool, learn how to use it and then buy one of your own.
Learn some basic anatomy and discover the intricate dance of your muscles-working-as-levers, moving your body in infinite ways.
Enjoy the Journey. Being aware of the emotional and ‘spirit’ side of our lives, our level of thinking and consciousness, what story we tell ourselves about life and our place in it, is extremely important for recovery and well-being. To become more aware, it helps to have a mindfulness/ meditation session daily, even simply a few minutes to breathe deeply and quiet the chatter and the auto-talk in our heads.