Your Bucket of Health and Energy
Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water.
In your day-to-day life, there are things that fill your bucket up. These are inputs like sleep, nutrition, meditation, stretching, laughter, and other forms of recovery.
There are also forces that drain the water from your bucket. These are outputs like lifting weights or running, stress from work or school, relationship problems, or other forms of stress and anxiety.
The forces that drain your bucket aren’t all negative, of course. To live a productive life, it can be important to have some of things flowing out of your bucket. Working hard in the gym, at school, or at the office allows you to produce something of value. But even positive outputs are still outputs and they drain your energy accordingly.
These outputs are cumulative. Even a little leak can result in significant water loss over time.
The Theory of Cumulative Stress
I usually run heavy three days per week. For a long time, I thought I should be able to handle four days per week. However, every time I added the extra workout in, I would be just fine for a few weeks and then end up exhausted or slightly injured about a month into the program.
This was frustrating. Why could I handle it for four or five weeks, but not longer than that?
Eventually I realized the issue: stress is cumulative. Three days per week was a pace I could sustain. When I added that fourth day in, the additional stress started to build and accumulate. At some point, the burden became too big and I would get exhausted or injured.
In extreme cases, like the snowball of stress can start to roll so fast that it pushes you to the brink of failure, fatigue and even sickness. But it’s important to realize that cumulative stress is something that you’re dealing with even when it isn’t a matter of life or death. The stress of extra workouts or additional mileage. The stress of building a business or finishing an important project. The stress of parenting your young children or dealing with a bad boss or caring for your aging parents. It all adds up.
Keeping Your Bucket Full
If you want to keep your bucket full, you have two options.
1. Refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching up on sleep, making time for laughter and fun, eating real food high in nutrient solid energy levels, and otherwise making time for recovery.
2. Let the stressors in your life accumulate and drain your bucket. Once you hit empty, your body will force you to rest through injury and illness.
Recovery is Not Negotiable
I’m in the middle of a very heavy cardio and endurance program because right now preparing for a 10k cross country next year.
I’ve spent the last two years training really easy and gradually working my way up to heavier loads. I’ve built a solid foundation of strength and cardio endurance. But even with that foundation, the load on this program is heavy and very taxing and the intensity is high.
Because of this, I’m taking special care to allow myself additional recovery. I’m allowed to sleep longer than usual (if I have to). If I need to eat more, so be it. Usually, I’m lazy about stretching and foam rolling, but I have been rolling my little heart out every day for the last few years. I’m doing whatever I can do to balance the stress and recovery deficit that this training program is placing on me.
Because recovery is not negotiable. You can either make time to rest and rejuvenate now or make time to be sick and injured later. Keep your bucket full.
Are you stressed and don’t know how to recover or maybe neglecting it ? Comment below and I will help you with some great tips.