Written by Kath Finn and Jane Senior, who speak from bitter experience. They have both spent many months ill and have finally and successfully taken the slow road to recovery. They would like to support others to make this journey a little faster than they did. They are Triathlon coaches and coaches with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and Association of Coaching.
Coaching for recovery from illness … and getting back to training
Simple, we just get better and return to normal training, right? Not quite, it pays to build up slowly. Training before you are fully well can lead to long term problems of various kinds. It has been linked to a higher possibility of developing chronic fatigue syndrome and increased ongoing respiratory difficulties. Training with a virus can also cause tachycardia – a speeded up resting heart rate. So patience is a virtue. One many of us haven’t got.
On occasion we don’t respond as we expect during a gradual recovery, then a new a new softly, softly approach is required. People who don’t recover as expected often experience a huge amount of frustration and are likely to try the yo-yo approach of too much training followed by periods of illness for a while. They unable to believe that the paltry amount of exercise they are doing is too much. Eventually some re-framing has to come into play.
Recovery through micro energy management
When we are struggling to recover from something we are already in a personal energy crisis and we need to take charge to move ourselves out of this crisis. We have to re-frame the way we think about our energy use.
Our energy comes in different forms – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. All strands of energy need to run at a reasonably high level over time for us to function and train effectively. People’s energy is finite and sometimes, like a car, we dip near the bottom of our reserve energy tank. Like a car, we tend not to function perfectly until this energy tank is topped up again. When our energy reserve tank is very low it is likely that all types of energy are low, possibly due to illness or life stresses, and all types need to be rebuilt. Lets consider the different types and some ideas for measuring them.
Physical energy forms the platform that our other energies are based on and this is the one that we are often most familiar with. The ‘more is better’, ‘no pain, no gain’ approach to training is currently unfortunately popular. However this is not sustainable, we are designed to need a recovery phase to ensure that we have the energy required to push again, both in training and in life. Recovery is not a luxury, it is essential to improve and sustain our performance. This is true when both training and recovering from illness. People find their own way of scoring things but a 9/10 here is ready to go out and race or ride your favourite long route, feeling on top of the world, fit and strong. A score of one might be able to walk slowly up the stairs but not much more. 0 and you are in bed….all day.