Why You Should View Recovery Like an Elite Athlete


No rest day!” “Sleep is for the weak!” “Work hard, play hard.” For most of our modern times, being successful equaled working harder, sleeping less, sacrificing mental and physical health for monetary rewards, and drinking more & more coffee to get things done. Today, science shows that prioritizing recovery advances your career and training goals more than burning your longevity to the ground in pursuit of your goals. 

How is this relevant during our global recovery from an extremely challenging 2020? Well. Good recovery is directly linked to happiness and mental health. That’s right. Rest hard - live significantly… and recover from the COVID-burnout. 

So how do we do it the right way? And what is “recovery” anyway? In this week’s #ChosenInsightSeries, Chōsen co-founder John Stanton discusses why and how we should recover like an elite athlete in order to improve teamwork, performance and resilience. 

During one of our signature Chōsen Experiences in Bali, John was sitting with one of the most accomplished Olympians in history, Michael Klim: Olympic gold medalist, father, entrepreneur, all around renaissance man, and an integral member of the Chōsen programming team. One of the impressive attendees, an innovator and business leader, asks Michael: “Michael. I want to perform like you. What is your secret?” He replies, “I sleep 8.5 hours every night, always have.” To which the guy replied, a little flabbergasted “yeah, yeah, yeah, but what if I can only afford 4-5 hours of sleep a night? I have to be productive, you know. What would you recommend to do to make sure that I can perform at my best? How do I bio-hack this problem?” Michael grins and patiently says, “Sleep time is productive time, there is no substitute!” As John says: “Sleep is the most productive thing you can do.” 

In the world of elite athletics, recovery is the single most important part of any training program. A proper recovery regimen allows for improved performance, permits time for the body to heal itself in preparation for the next training load, and decreases the risk of potential injury. The benefits of recovery allow for the attainment of new goals and personal bests. If recovery is so important for our body, then why do only elite athletes do it? John wants to challenge you to believe that you are an athlete. And the primary reason? 20 to 25% of your body's energy is used by your mind on a daily basis. If we are the next generation of mental workers, innovators, thought leaders, change-makers… then we must treat ourselves as such. 

Elite chess players can burn up to 6,000 calories during a tournament (more on this in a moment). “Prioritizing recovery is incredibly important: with optimal recovery, you make better quality decisions and have fewer mistakes in quantitative tasks. You prevent burnout, improve memory, and recover faster from setbacks in times of stress. Now more than ever, especially during uncertain times, we need to look upon recovery as an integral part of daily life - even if we are not elite athletes or pro chess players, ” says John. 

So how do we get started with recovering optimally for increased performance? John outlines three science-backed, Olympian-approved steps:

  • Hydration: drinking enough water each day is crucial to regulate essential bodily functions and improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.

    • Men: recommended to drink 3.7 liters of water a day

    • Women: recommended to drink 2.7 liters of water a day

  • Mental Recovery: How do tournament chess players burn 6000 calories in a day, even when the mind takes up to 25% of the body’s energy? Stress. 

    • One of the best ways to help our bodies ease into recovery and enjoy the plethora of related health benefits, including a massive reduction of the stress hormone cortisol, is through spending time in nature.

    • John’s recommendation: Go out for frequent walks in nature, starting with a simple quarter hour (15 minutes) in the middle of the afternoon. 

  • Sleep: getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night is crucial to rest and recovery and balanced hormone production. While the amount of sleep is important, focus on the quality of sleep to get started:

    • Exposure to blue light from your electronic devices delays melatonin release, shifts your internal clock, and reduces the amount of psychological and physical repair that you experience during your sleep.

      • Do a “digital detox:” keeping your electronics away at a half-hour before bed.

      • And at least a half-hour after waking.

Recovery is a vital component of our health and well being, as it enables the body to repair and be fit for all of life’s challenges that lie ahead. This is going to be a critical year for us as a species - are you ready?

For more information on how we can support you to bulletproof your resilience and optimize your lifestyle for increased performance, reach out to us, we would love to hear from you! 

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