The body adapts to training if you let it – as long as applied stress is not greater than the body’s capacity to adapt.

I hope you had a great summer and are diving into training for the upcoming winter! And it is right now, when transitioning from leisure hiking, backpacking, boating, biking and other great summer activities to ski-specific training, that our bodies start to complaint a bit. It may be that pesky plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendopathy that is chirping at you, or an arthritic knee making you adapt your training. You may suddenly notice that a pain has surfaced without you ‘doing anything special’. [….]

Here is the good news: The body adapts – as long as applied stress is not greater than the body’s capacity to adapt.

What does it mean? 

Think about your cardiovascular system; your first 5-mile run at the beginning of running season is pretty tough, but then it gets much, much easier as your system develops an aerobic base and endurance as it adapts. It’s the same with our tissues.

If you allow tissues to be gradually loaded, they get stronger and more durable to the stress you are putting them through. Your Achilles gets tougher and more resilient. Your knee cartilage gets stronger. The plantar fasciitis resolves.

The tissues adapt.

When you load tissues (tendon, muscle, cartilage), microdamage occurs. The tissue repairs – often stronger – than its previous version. This takes approximately 72 hours.

But you can’t completely rest for those 72 hours, otherwise you’ll reset back to square one. The recommendations are to cross-train; light skate ski after a hard classic interval day, bike, or hit the gym. 

Don’t forget your sleep! If you are training hard, your body may need the 8+ hours at night, plus an extra nap (what a luxury!).  Appropriate nutrition is also extremely important; you may recover very fast with good nutrition, otherwise it may take weeks. Sleep and nutrition are the best anti-inflammatory remedies out there.

If the load your tissues is more than can be repaired in 72 hours, then we start noticing increased pain and fatigue. Scale back slightly, and make sure your recovery is optimal. But don’t rest completely unless absolutely needed. Talk to your physical therapist.

The takeaways:

  • Unless you are following a strict training plan designed to have you peak at a certain time of the year, try to space your most intense workouts 3 days apart.
  • Cross-train between high intensity days.
  • Recover well! Sleep and good nutrition are the best recovery remedies you can get your hands on.
  • If you have increased pain, try to identify the cause. Not “I did a lot of hill sprints on Tuesday,” but maybe “I did a lot of hill sprints on Tuesday after doing striding intervals on Monday after a backpacking trip and not sleeping well over the weekend,” …you get the picture.
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