The Three Rs

If you go to school and want to excel, you must learn the 3Rs—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. What does that have to do with training you ask? Nothing, but it is nice to know that our athletes are educated and well rounded.

Let’s get to the point. If you train and want to obtain optimal performance, you must learn the 3R’s—Rest, Repair and Recovery.

You can only push your training as hard as you can recover.
The American Way:
If some is good, then, more is better;
Stronger, Faster, Harder;
Eventually, something has to give or break.

Trying to beat your own personal record in training, each day, is a prescription for disaster. Now that we talked about controlling the intensity of a workout, creating the pattern of hard (anaerobic), and easy (aerobic) is next.

In a perfect world, the athlete would be able to train when they wanted, rest when they needed to, and not have to deal with the normalcy of life. Now, welcome to the real world. School, work bills, even a schedule that requires frequent games, can stress an athlete to the max. So how can the athlete pick a training schedule of hard/easy workouts? Morning heart rate may be the guide you need. Taken in the morning, before you get up and move around, this number should give a fair assessment of your body’s resting level. As you train, this number should hold steady and, with time, go down. In other words, as you increase your fitness level, you should lower your morning HR. Any irritation to the body—overtraining, tiredness, injury, even catching a cold will increase this number. If you see your morning HR going up, you must look at your training schedule and ask ‘why’. Most likely, you are not getting enough of the 3Rs.

If a hard anaerobic workout is chosen, you must allow enough of the 3Rs before you do it again. Following a hard workout, the next day, your morning HR will be increased. Muscle stress, fatigue, lactic acid creation, even exhaustion, are irritating to the body and increase morning HR. Before you train hard again, you must soothe and relax your body. Choosing low end aerobic work will help enhance the 3R process. Depending on the athlete’s condition, 1, 2, or 3 days of easy training may be needed following a hard workout. Typically, if your body needs more than 3 days to recover from a hard workout, then the anaerobic workout you chose was too hard and needs to be adjusted.

There are ways to enhance the 3Rs. Non-traumatic, low end aerobic work (active rest) is most beneficial. Bike, elliptical, pool, even a stepper are helpful choices. By keeping your HR low in the aerobic zone, you will enhance oxygenation and tissue repair. By going non-traumatic, you can actually soothe your aching body. Make sure you are well hydrated during your low end non-traumatic workout, and your muscles will reward you.

Follow your morning HR; if it starts to increase, look at your schedule. Your body is craving for more aerobic exposures. In the event that your HR is staying the same and drifting down—steer the course, as it sounds like your aerobic/anaerobic blend is physiologically correct.

However, you cannot ask your body to constantly improve.  A schedule of ‘Peaking’ and ‘Backing off’ must be employed. Training needs to be devised so that the athlete can peak at the epitome of their season or competition. In a future article, we will discuss the 4 Phases of Training, and how they fit into a year-long schedule. As always, we look forward to your comments. I juice and I am proud.



  • Wanted to say thank you for the note that you sent me. For about 2 months now I have been ridnig my bike outside and just this past month started walking along with my bike ridnig. 2 mile walk for an hour followed immediately by 3 mile bike ride for 30 min. With the spring time upon us here in the USA it is getting warmer and I am sweating more. The terrain is mostly flat with a slight hill in places. I walk around the block so it comes and goes as far as working hard and then having it easy. TY


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