Yesterday I burned 30 percent more calories in my cycling class, and did not feel like I was working myself to death. Yes, I pushed it and had a great workout – but it also came off of two days of rest from cardio. It brings home the clichéd motto I preach, but don’t often follow….less is more.
It isn’t a new theory and it applies to everything. A little medicine can help you feel better, a lot can make you sick; a little brownie is delicious, a lot makes you puke; a little wine makes you fun at parties, a lot makes you a fool. It applies to exercise too. This theory came up at the Yoga Journal Conference I attended this weekend. Avid yogis, or people new to yoga, sometimes think more – in terms of executing a pose – must be the path to enlightenment. The deeper you go, the more you effort – the better the effects – right? Not right. Too much can cause you to feel stressed in a pose. Too much can destroy the essence of a pose. Too much can make you focus more on perfection and depth than on feeling. Too much can even cause injury. Frankly, when you can get your legs behind your head….nothing new happens.
I was struck by an article in “Running Times” published last month. The author discussed the importance of recovery in training, especially among competitive runners. He referenced a client who was getting older and due to fatigue and injuries, was only able to train 75 miles per week (I said competitive runners here…no *eye roll* who runs 75 miles per week? comments please). The catch was: this client was breaking personal records at races anyway. Despite this, the client reported that as soon as he was able – he was going to get back up to 100-mile plus weeks. He was so blinded by the misconception that more must be better, that he failed to see the benefits of less is more in his training.
I fall victim to this all the time. As an instructor, I perform multiple cardio and/or strength classes per day and try to keep my mileage between 15 and 40 miles per week – depending on the race for which I am training. While I make an effort to pull back in certain classes, I often get carried away and work harder than I intend – or try to work harder only to find I can’t elevate my heart rate or burn a significant number of calories. My legs frequently feel heavy, and although I have escaped major injury I know I am not immune. A class like yesterday, when I left empowered and rejuvenated from my workout without a hint of soreness or heaviness reminds me – less is more. I will try to incorporate more of this principle into my workouts – can you?