Training more thanks to better recovery - What I learned from WHOOP
If you're anything like me, then you'd play tennis all day ☀️ and night 🌙 just to get better.
Because the more the better, right?!
Well, not really!
Turns out that recovery is just as important, if you want to keep training hard for a veeeery long period of time ⏳. Which of course you do, because... well, where do you think you can get otherwise?!
Btw if you’re new on this blog and have no clue about who I am, I'm Elena Margaria 👋🏻 and just like you, I'm on a mission to become the best tennis player I can 🥇. Even without a fancy team, or too much talent. Just with a huge desire to make it.
That's why Tennis Rematch exists: to share everything I learn along the way 🤓, so you can get better faster, and together we can prove that we can achieve anything we set our mind to 🔥.
Ok, now back to business!
I know what you're thinking... But how can you say NO to an extra hour of tennis ⁉️
Trust me, when you've experienced what it's like to be overtrained then you don't even think twice, your NO comes automatically!
Feeling tired, lazy and out of energy all the time is not fun. Your legs don't go no matter how hard you try to move them, you're slow to react and quickly out of breath.
It's truly HORRIBLE 🥵!
And what's worse, it can take days or even a week of doing NOTHING to get back to feeling normal, back to being able to get a good practice again.
So yes, being overtrained is really something you don't want to happen!
But how?! How on earth do you stay away from overtraining, while still training as hard as you can?
I wish I could tell you "just listen to your body", but I tried it myself and mhhhh... didn't go very well 😅!
The temptation of pushing yourself too hard is just too big when you're hungry for wins, so it simply doesn't work.
Which is why it's been more than 6 months since I got some extra, very welcome help with that: the WHOOP.
Just so you know, WHOOP is a fitness tracker. But not just another one! WHOOP is the best in the market at tracking sleep 😴 and measuring recovery 🔋: it's no coincidence that it's worn by the best pro athletes in the world!
I got mine as a birthday gift 🎁 and since then I never took it off. Literally!!
In fact, there's no need to: not even to charge it!
Because here's how it works: in practice, you charge a black, little thing through USB cable, and when your WHOOP needs to be fed, pluf, you just attach it on top and it gets charged while it keeps doing its job. So you really don't miss a thing!
Isn't it GENIUS?!
Anyway... after wearing my WHOOP non-stop for the last 6 months I can tell you: NO WAY I could have trained as hard as I did for such a long time without it!
I would have for sure ended up overtrained and thought my body just couldn't handle more than that.
Instead, by wearing WHOOP I learnt, and am still learning, what my body can really do (and that's A LOT more than I thought!) when it actually gets what it needs.
And yes, it did take quite some time to fully trust its findings and listen to its advice without questioning it... but day by day, insight after insight, it earned my trust and changed my habits!
Who would have said that proper sleep and rest are all our body needs to perform at its full potential?!
Not me, but that's just because I wasn't doing them right!
🔸 I've always thought I was a good sleeper.
Not only I can fall asleep in record time, but I can actually do it wherever and no matter the conditions and the position: light, no light, bed, floor, lying, sitting, standing... I don't really mind!
And once I'm asleep, someone could literally take the bed from under me and I wouldn't even notice! That is how deep is my sleep!
Yes, that is just luck, but I've always done my part as well: in fact, I used to always set my alarm clock ⏰ 8h after my bed-time, because you know... 8h is the minimum no?!
Well, since I got WHOOP I understood this.
With all the training I'm doing, 8h of sleep is rarely enough to fully recover.
And even when they are enough, by setting the alarm clock just 8h after my bed-time I'm practically signing up for 7h of sleep 🥱.
And here's why: even though my sleep efficiency (= amount of sleep you get / amount of time spent in bed) is really good and more than 90% on average, the amount of time I spend "awake" every night usually amounts to 1h.
👉 "Mh?! But didn't I say I was a good sleeper?!"
I did (and still think I am), but it does take me a few min to fall asleep anyway (about 10 min) and, even though I don't realize it, I apparently have several disturbances happening through the night (about 15 / night) that interrupt my sleep. So all summed up, that's 1h!
The famous, extra 1h I now always schedule to make sure I actually get the recommended amount of sleep!
Ahhh if only I had known...
📌 Sleeping enough is really the #1 habit to get right in order to work hard, recover fast, and work hard again! Without it, all the rest doesn't matter much and goes to trash 🗑.
So... once I got this right, I learnt another quite surprising fact.
🔸 Not only was I not sleeping enough, but also very inconsistently.
In fact, I've always thought that getting enough sleep was enough no matter when, but nope, that's not how it works.
Turns out that when it comes to recovery, having a consistent schedule does make a difference!
Here's what I understood since I'm wearing WHOOP: if optimal sleep and recovery were a pizza 🍕, then sleep performance would be the bottom and the tomato sauce, while sleep consistency would be the toppings.
Toppings alone don't make a pizza, just as having a consistent schedule doesn't help with recovery if all you sleep is 3h / night.
But toppings do make the pizza better as long as the bottom and the tomato sauce are there, just as sleep consistency improves recovery as long as sleep performance is on point.
Not sure if this pizza example helped or just made you hungry, but the point is if you have to choose between sleeping enough or sleeping consistent then go for sleeping enough!
📌 But since there's no reason why you should choose only one, to give yourself the best possible chance of recovery then make sure you sleep enough AND have a consistent bed-and-waking-up time.
But enough about sleep!
Let's now get to what I've learnt by monitoring the trend 📊 of my recoveries instead.
🔸 Which is, ignoring the first signs of fatigue can do more harm than good.
I used to think more is always better. That it's normal to be tired sometimes and that you just need to make an effort and... just do it! But no... I was wrong!
Actually, when you feel tired on the court, most of the time it's because you've already gone past the optimal amount of strain (= the amount of strain that your body is ready to take on based on your latest recovery) in the previous days and haven't properly recovered yet.
Your body is screaming at you 🔊, and you should prioritize rest ASAP!
OR you'll end up struggling in your practices, feeling frustrated because you're not performing as well as you'd like to and needing much more rest than if you had rested in the first place!
Trust me, I've been there. And not only once: a few times! And the story is always the same.
Whenever I ignore a low recovery and exceed the optimal amount of strain recommended by WHOOP's strain coach, what happens is a snow-ball effect.
The next day my recovery's going to be even lower, the day after even lower and so on for even a week, no matter how easy I take it the next days!
Ahhhh that's soooooo bad 🤯!
📌 Soooo... instead of doing like me and regretting it later, give yourself permission to take a rest every now and then. It's not a waste of time, just the opposite: it's your way to ensure you can keep training hard for forever!
I really hope these little nuggets of wisdom that I've learnt from WHOOP can keep you away from overtraining!
Even though... I know, it's gonna be hard! It's hard for me with WHOOP checking on me all the time, I can imagine for you!!
(By the way, if you're thinking of getting a WHOOP for yourself, join with my link and get a free WHOOP strap and your first month free 🎁)
Just keep this in mind: ✨ training too much harms your performance just as much as not training enough does! ✨
Speaking of which... how crazy is it that many people struggle to get enough exercise in, and we tennis players have the exact opposite problem?!? Because we all do, right?!?!?
Let me know in the comments below how you feel about it: do you think you're training too little or too much? Or maybe, you've finally found a balance! If so: great job, that's the way to go!!
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