The best thing that you can do for your performance is to decrease stress by doing a workout that promotes recovery.
“I only have 20 minutes to workout today, what should I do?” -Busy Beatríz
We’ve all been there. You have a quality workout scheduled at the end of the day, and little by little the day gets busier and more hectic. By the time you finally get to that 60- to 90-minute planned window, you find you only have 20 minutes to spare. What to do?
On those extra stressful time-crunched days, the best thing that you can do for your performance is to decrease stress by doing a workout that promotes recovery—regardless of what you had planned.
In my coaching practice, time and again I have seen a pattern: Athletes are the most likely to get sick, injured, or overtrained when those stressful days accumulate and the pressure of training mounts.
Studies have looked at how athletes respond to training on stressed-out “fight or flight” days (days with low heart-rate variability). Research has found that athletes who saved their hardest, high-quality workouts for less stressful days were in a calmer “ready state” and got a lot more bang for their training response buck.
So, what’s the best way to spend your workout allocation on those stressed-out, “time-crunched” days? Use those sessions for easy, active recovery walks or cruiser spins through the local park. Or grab the yoga mat, crank up the YouTube, and roll through an easy yoga routine.
Employ the above strategy on those extra busy days, and you’ll sleep better, recover better, and will avoid risking injury or illness. Most importantly, you’ll get the most “bang for your buck” when calm finally sets in and you have time to put in quality workouts.
Alan Couzens has a master’s degree in science in exercise physiology from the University of Western Sydney in Australia and works with high-level age-groupers and pros, including 2016 70.3 world champion Tim Reed, and 2016 Ultraman world champion Iñaki De la Parra.