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 Nov 25, 2010: Volume 11, Number 29

The Science of Recovery


Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part article on recovery. Part one presents an overview of the importance of rest and recovery. Part two summarizes the signs and symptoms of fatigue and the challenges that undermine our attempts to quantify athletes' recovery status. And part three introduces the first reasonable (inexpensive, valid, simple and intuitive) tool to accurately quantify recovery;


Authors:           Matthew Weatherley-White, Jeff Hunt & Dr. Vern Neville


Tel:                   (+1) 978-371-1433


Part 1: The role of recovery in Performance.


As athletes we all understand the importance of recovery..., or do we?


Recovery plays a role in every training program, whether intentional or not. Every athlete who has trained hard and experienced fatigue the following day understands that the body's resources are finite. Few of us, however, approach recovery with the same intentionality with which we approach training.  The result is a failure to effectively utilise recovery, not only to prepare for the next training session, but to increase performance.


One of the more common misconceptions in sport is that since performance gains are derived from hard training, the more one trains the greater the potential for improvement. Wrong! Yes, hard training is necessary to stress the body and initiate the adaptation processes which lead to fitness and performance gains. And yes, hard training could be important in psychologically preparing an athlete for the stress of competition. But the fact that most athletes alternate high load training with lighter training sessions, and include more recovery after tough competitions (or hard training blocks), demonstrates the need for recovery. Without sufficient recovery the body is not be able to respond consistently and predictably. As a result, training quality and competition performance will likely be compromised.


"Recovery isn't just important, it's a biological necessity"

- Dr. Vern Neville (Loughborough University)


The human body is a robust structure that continually strives to maintain a state of homeostasis by responding to overcome stress. This is the basis of training adaptation which forms the foundation for all training protocols, and which is divided into three distinct phases (Figure 1). The first phase is the application of training stress, resulting in fatigue and reduced performance. The second phase is the recovery period when the body attempts to overcome and adapt to the stress of training.  Phase three is an adaptive rebound above baseline fitness as the body attempts to regain homeostasis. This rebound is often referred to as "supercompensation".



The aim of this article is to highlight the fact that although training is a necessary stress, to maximize performance requires optimizing the relationship between rest and recovery. It is not how hard one trains that ultimately determines performance, but how smart one trains.


From this, one could conclude that effective training is relatively simple. All one need do is train hard to create the required stress to initiate adaptation and then allow time for the adaptation to occur. True, but... the recovery process becomes complex when one considers that training affects many different energy systems within the body, each requiring a different period of recovery. Furthermore, non-training related stress (daily life; social stress; travel and environmental stress; etc) can substantially influence an athlete's recovery needs. Recovery requirements may therefore vary considerably between identical training sessions executed at different times. Understanding and implementing optimal recovery is thus a necessary, but challenging part of an effective training plan - optimal recovery will eventually determine the degree to which adaptation (fitness gains) occurs.


In summary, it is not the training load that ultimately determines performance, but rather the precise balance between training load and optimal recovery. Too much recovery and one may be under-training, and too little recovery introduces the very real risk of over-training.


First, let's look at two scenarios; both are represented by simplified periodization plans (Figure 2 and Figure 3). The blue shaded areas represent periods of intense or high-load training, the yellow areas represent periods of rest and recovery and the horizontal line represents baseline fitness. If the relationship between training and recovery is such that each period of training is followed by an adequate (optimal) period of recovery then the athlete will experience a gradual improvement in performance (Figure 2). A well-structured program - with an optimal training load/recovery ratio - will set the foundations for satisfaction, enjoyment, a positive relationship with the activity and, likely, increased performance.



Conversely, if the training load is increased relative to recovery (or recovery is inadequate), the ratio between training load and recovery becomes unbalanced (Figure 3), leading to a gradual reduction in performance, increased stress, an increased risk of injury and illness and, ultimately, Over Training Syndrome.


to read the rest of teh RestWise article please click here 




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November 19, 2010 - Morrisville, VT -

Both skiers and non-skiers alike succeeded in the 2nd Annual SkiErg World Sprints; Christopher McLaughlin, who uses the SkiErg at home for fitness, set a new men's new world-record time of 3:01.9, while CXC Team Vertical Limit member Jennie Bender won the women's event in 3:51.6. McLaughlin, 39, started rowing and skiing after years of lifting, work and running hurt his knees. The Concept2 Indoor Rower and SkiErg provided him with a low-impact full-body workout. He uses the Concept2 rankings and logbook for motivation while he works out at home. When asked about his new World Record, McLaughlin humbly replied "I'm sure there are guys out there who are faster than me than me, they just haven't surfaced yet".

On the women's side, winner Jennie Bender, who has skied at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior and U23 Championships, has been using the Concept2 SkiErg for training with CXC Team Vertical limit, a post-collegiate program that supports athletes with elite aspirations. "[The SkiErg] is good for analyzing double-pole technique and getting in a hard effort inside that's ski-specific" says Bender. Bender competed at The Fix Studio in Minneapolis, MN, which hosted a SkiErg World Sprints race as a fundraiser for her and fellow Olympic hopeful Matt Leibsch.

The SkiErg World Sprints, hosted by Concept2 CTS on November 12-14, had over 500 participants from 10 countries skiing 1000 meters on the Concept2 SkiErg between November 12 and 14. Participants can compare their times because each SkiErg includes a self-calibrating Performance Monitor. As Bender noted, "Ski racing has so many variables that make comparisons difficult, that its cool to have a universal competition for skiers all over the world." Skiers submitted their time to be ranked at Concept2 to see how they compare before the official ski season begins.

Athletes from age 5 to 86 participated in this year's World Sprints; the SkiErg is a low-impact exercise suitable for all ages. Concept2 offers rankings and challenges to help keep skiers motivated throughout the year. More information on the SkiErg is available at

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Cross-Country Ski Headquarters Clinics

December 4, 2010 Saturday 4Pm to 6 PM Toko Wax Clinic
The Midwest's Toko Wax Tech Nick Biac will review the basics of race waxing for both skate and classic.
December 11, 2010 Saturday 1 PM to 8 PM
Swix Wax Clinic and Team Get Together and Fischer RCS Carbonlite Skate Hole Ski Demo Center Opening

Let us know your coming email Bob Frye at

Wednesday Dec 1st 6:30PM

Cross-Country Waxing Clinic 

Northern Nights Trading Company

Bozeman , MT


Presented by Andrew Gerlach

Swix Nordic Communicator


The Clinic will why explain what waxes do based on snow types.

Ever wondered why your skis barely glide when it is extremely cold or extremely wet?

After this clinic, waxing and waxes will no longer be a mystery.


8th Annual Steamboat Nordic Camp

Dec 11 - 12th, 2010 - Registration Open

Kick off your ski season with area's top coaches helping you improve your skills. A remarkable collection of coaching talent including former Nordic Olympian Sarah Konrad and top area coaches will assemble for the 2-day instructional camp to take place Friday evening at Ski Haus, and Saturday at The Lake Catamount Touring Center and Sunday at Steamboat Ski Touring Center

The Camp caters to all ability levels: true beginner to advanced and race oriented. Clinic groups are divided by ability and group size is small so that participants can get the most from their coach. Thanks to Ski Haus, 10/11 Nordic ski equipment will be available to demo at the "try before you buy" demo tents: Fischer, Salomon, Rossignol, Atomic, SWIX, Toko, Madshus representatives will be on hand with equipment and information to assist you. Last but not least, hearty lunches, happy hour, great prizes and fun camaraderie add to this "not to be missed" Nordic event. For more information and to register:
Early registration fees are $165 for two days and $100 for one day through Dec. 4th. Register online at or in person at Ski Haus. Sign up early, this camp will fill up.

About SkiPost

Cross-Country skiing's community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing see or email us at

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost

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