A cannibalizing myth eats away at both our bodies and minds: that as we age, we slow down so we take longer to recover. This mental virus mutated into popular belief as a result of misunderstanding the nature of recovery.
Recovery is not a “break” from work. It is the positive result of and productive benefits of work. Your exercise is catabolic: it breaks you down. Your recovery is anabolic: it builds you up. Unfortunately, we have come to view the work as the benefit and result, when it is purely the potential and opportunity for growth and development.
Therefore, as we age, we are told that due to our impending demise, we cannot work as hard, due to the severity of the breakdown it increasingly elicits; and as a result, demands longer and longer from which to recuperate.
Allow me to offer a reframe based upon our modern understanding of the (myofascial) body: as we age, and increase in our consistent discipline with proper technique, and tight focus upon effective mechanics, we yield deeper benefits from the same amount of work. If we reap greater benefits (break down potential) from the same amount of work, then we need longer to fully adapt to receive all of its bountiful results.
Think of it like the difference between the sinewy innervation of well-used muscle, compared to the soft puffiness of new or unused muscle. The more you use a movement, the more it grooves neuromuscularly. More use = more benefit from work = more recovery time to 100% adapt to the work = more efficient use. In grappling, we call this “drifting” - you work as hard as you can, and then you recover as long as you can.
Imagine that you’re downloading your fitness from the Internet. Think of establishing the “bars” of the signal strength: the stronger you make the signal, the more bandwidth you have to download your new fitness software. If your signal is weak, you can only download very small programs, for little increases in user efficiency. (Of course when we are younger we can also hold a weaker signal longer and eventually become as strong as our elders, too. But we are discussing a different myth right now.)
We don’t have to recover longer as we age because we are in the process of aging’s decline. We GET to recover longer because we are yielding more benefits from the same amount of work we did when we were younger, less disciplined and less focused. Drift all of your benefits up to 100%. Revel in the recovery. You earned it because you’re becoming better for it!