I hate running. I am not exactly well-built for endurance training either. These are just some of the reasons why I knew I had to incorporate more of it into my training. It’s not exactly the type of training I want to see hockey players focus a great deal on but nevertheless there are some great benefits to a good jog. Some of the best athletes I know have done a lot of runs in their life (Ali, Jerry Rice, Kovalchuk, Hagelin…the list goes on). Running for me, when I have focused on it has helped improve my movement patterns, balance, lower body strength and endurance.
Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA Saint Petersburg): Training
I believe in running but today am not about running or training. It is a little rant on recovery. Bumps and bruises will occur whether in a game or in training, recovery is an important process of being a successful athlete. It’s about listening to your body, understanding your ability and doing what is necessary to continue the constant progress.
Three weeks ago I decided to get back into some jogging with my cousin; he took us on a 9 mile course through NYC. Yes, 9.15 to be exact and it was no easy course either with human traffic, bridges and many other city obstacles. I do not regret jumping into it with such a big run, even though it was one of my longest. I only regret not doing a better job in listening to my body because even today I am feeling the effects of it. A physical therapist I talked to said that it was what they call a “training error”, in which I exceeded my physical capabilities for a long period of time. It makes even more sense knowing I ran it using a completely new running method than I was used to.
I can still remember the run, the first few miles went by pretty quick. It was on the way back that I started to feel my legs give out on me. I extremely slowed down my pace because of this but I was determined to finish it. I was pretty proud in finishing it at about 8:15/mile pace but it was not worth it. I should have warmed up for this jog, I should not have changed my method of running, I should have quit when my legs basically shut down on me.
No matter, the past is the past. I looked to the future and dedicated my time to getting back to my old-self.
Firstly, I wanted to define my injury and understand what was wrong. All I knew was that it was my entire knee acting up, and the movement of walking up/down stairs caused the most issues. There was a lot of sharp pain and I remember having at least half a dozen ideas of what it could be. I decided to not go see a doctor, understanding their only advice would be to “rest it” or “come back if it gets worse”. I reached out to some experts in the field who gave me some great advice. The one thing they all agreed on was to work on getting back my full range of motion.
For the first few days I focused on simply resting my legs and massaging my knees. The shooting, random pain started to be more dull and specific. I started to understand it more every day. I did a bit of studying of the knee’s anatomy and started to foam roll and massage specific areas I felt would be best. Foam rolling my IT bands the night before always made the most significant difference the next day. I focused on a lot of hydration and proper nutrition, and utilized resistance bands and voo-doo floss to restore joint mechanics and repair any injured tissue.
I even went to the gym every other day to work on upper-body strength and mechanics. I was starting to feel better and 2 weeks in I decided to play a game I had already committed to. I felt great for the first half but ultimately crashed and burned. I felt it, half way through the game my knees were tensing up but I decided to push through it. They were locking up too and I had to leave the game early. Sat alone in the locker room, realizing I might have just messed myself up again. That the whole recovery process I was on may have been for nothing. I came home and continued on with my recovery the same way; a meal, massages, foam roller and stretch. I went to bed in a lot of pain though.
Yet to my surprise I woke up feeling great. I cannot explain it but I was not going to risk it. I did nothing that day but relax and rest. There is still some discomfort in both of my knees especially walking up stair cases but I am taking it day by day.
There is a big difference between soreness and injury. As a hockey player you have to understand this difference. You have to understand that hard work is necessary, but recovery is just as important. I am fortunate enough to say that this was the worst injury I have ever experienced, but you have to take it as an experience.
Your recovery should include rest, but it should also include the understanding of why something failed and how you can prevent it in the future. That is what I am working on now for myself.
Top 5 Things To Consider When In Recovery Mode
Aim for more than 8 hours of sleep. This is the time where your body does the most recovery. If you can add in a 15-30 minute nap too would be even better.
Ask yourself, are you eating enough? Enough vitamins and nutrients? Are you drinking enough water? Eating enough fresh veggies and fruits? Too much to go over in one post but check out different athletic diets and play around with it. Looking for a book to read in the summer? Check out Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body for more on diet and performance.
Try to dedicate at least one hour to yoga in your week. There are a lot of different types and plenty of them are online for free.
I have a passion for physical therapy and knowing my injury was not getting worse I decided to not to actually see a doctor. I rested it and consulted with physical therapists. If you feel lost in your recovery process, you have questions or the pain is getting worse than go see a medical professional. Don’t hesitate.
It is important to rest the injured area. However its also important to get in some type of movement. Avoid movements that cause more pain the area. I worked on deep squats to help with my IT Band Syndrome, rode my bike (no discomfort from this) and did a series of Mobility WODs that I felt would help the area.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE NHL AND THE KHL
Found this little tidbit from http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/
Thought it was very interesting on how the Slavic culture respects certain recovery methods.
Kuznetsov (Capitals) explains the difference between NHL and KHL.
Goes into detail on recovery
Practices in the NHL are completely different. In how you train. For example, various small details – if your shot is not on goal, you do five pushups. You have to put the puck on goal consistently. So, during the game, we end up taking seven to ten shots on goal more [than the other team] and that is what helped us win. Training sessions vary greatly. Nobody yells at you, all instructions are given and explained before the practice. If you don’t follow instructions, you may be told once. Nobody is going to repeat anything twice. In the NHL, you are on your own a lot. You can design your own gym training program. I like the program our coach came up with for me. Recovery process and medicine are at a different level, although it seems that is at a higher level in the KHL. In Russia you get a lot of help with recovery, but in the NHL you have to solve that problem by yourself. You have to find a masseur by yourself. We try to visit a sauna and a masseur after a game. That is very important after hard games. If you don’t pay enough attention to recovery, the fatigue will accumulate. You have to pay attention to your health. If you don’t take care of it yourself, nobody is going to help you.
FINALLY, A Challenge!
Here is a challenge for all of you. Check out my favorite training site here and their article on recovery:
They have a chart with a point system on different recovery methods. I dare you to spend every day for a week in obtaining at least a 1.0 in this system.
- Mark Lisica