The difference between winning and losing
29 Nov 2018
Elite athletes will recognise that physical conditioning and good nutrition are key components in achieving optimal performance. However, rest and relaxation play an equally important role. The importance of rest and relaxation, not only to recover, but also to allow the body to adapt to the training load, cannot be stressed enough.
Rest and relaxation are critical to your sports performance and should be incorporated into your exercise programme, allowing you to recover both physically and psychologically. During exercise, physiological changes occur in your body, including muscle tissue breakdown and depletion of energy stores, as well as fluid loss. Recovery time allows these stores to be replenished and allows tissue repair to occur. Without enough time to repair and replenish, your body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. Without appropriate rest and relaxation, you will be over trained, which not only means you won’t perform optimally but will also predispose you to injury and/or breakdown.
Training and competition can call for just as much mental strength as physical strength and not getting the rest and relaxation your body requires can affect the alertness and mood, potentially preventing you from reaching your optimal level of performance. Remember, the brain is one of the body’s most valuable organs and needs to be rested to re-establish a sense of well-being and positive mood. It is important to disengage mentally from your training or competitive performance and to relax in order to reduce levels of tension and arousal.
Sleep is considered the most vital recovery mechanism for both psychological and physiological repair and restoration. Good quality and quantity of sleep provides regeneration and restoration of the body’s systems to allow adaption to training. Adequate sleep is also associated with increased concentration levels, improved mood and training capacities. Despite all the observable benefits of a full night’s sleep, athletes struggle to reserve those uninterrupted 7-9 hours sleep due to strict scheduling, travel time and stresses placed on the athlete. This can result in an increased stress/fatigue state. Athletes who don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours sleep required to ensure psychological and physiological recovery could suffer sleep deprivation resulting in reductions in cognitive motor performance, reaction time, mood state/emotional stability, low energy levels, poor focus and increased chance of injury.
It is evident that rest and relaxation is critical to your athletic performance, so it’s essential that it is viewed as another part of your overall preparation. Our Elite Athlete Centre and Hotel is designed to alleviate problems athletes may come across that prevent rest and relaxation, such as training schedules and travel time, by having everything at your fingertips, whether it be our training facilities, rest and relaxation area, altitude bedrooms, on site café or nutrition lounge. We aim to help athletes worry less and sleep more.
Relaxation differs from actual rest in the sense that it is the brain’s way of rejuvenating and can assist in reducing the arousal we experience from stress and/or anxiety. This means that rest occurs while we are asleep, and relaxation occurs while we are awake and involves us engaging in activities we enjoy. Our rest and relaxation area, The Lounge, is a perfect way to disengage your mind from training and competition. This facility is strictly for athletes only, meaning it is a coach-free area. There are TVs, wireless headphones and traditional board games, so you can relax and enjoy your free time, allowing yourself to unwind and recuperate in a stress-free environment. To further assist that recuperation, all our bedrooms have en-suite wet rooms and 7ft twin beds in our standard rooms (6ft twin bed in accessible rooms), creating a home-from-home experience for all our athletes.
For the average person, sleep is an important component of maintaining optimum health. For elite athletes, however, sleep becomes a crucial pillar of success. The quality and quantity of sleep attained by elite athletes can be the difference between winning and losing. Without adequate recovery, you will not reach optimal performance, so improving your sleep hygiene is key factor in achieving success in any sport.