Less is Less: the Myth of More Recovery

From all-you-can-eat buffets to credit card debt, it seems that as long as it’s couched in the guise of “more,” human beings want more of it. I think that it’s very possibly related to our internal hardwiring that guides us towards behavior that demonstrates loss aversion. Loss aversion is most commonly demonstrated by two games. In game one, I can redeem a “token” for a donut (or some other desirable object, like a piece of bacon) and, based off of a coin-toss, either get a second donut (or piece of bacon) or nothing; in game two, I can redeem a token for two donuts and, based off of a coin toss, either one of those donuts is taken away or nothing happens. In both cases, the odds are exactly the same. In 50% of the cases, I get two donuts, and in 50%, I get one. But human beings (and, incidentally, capuchan monkeys) demonstrate a very strong preference for game #1. The idea is that we much prefer the idea of maybe getting more, which is how we perceive game #1, than we like the idea of maybe getting less, which is how we perceive game #2. With regards to triathlon, the latest phenomenon sweeping our sport (and others) along these lines is the idea of getting faster as a result of, “more recovery.” Perhaps unfortunately, there is no such thing as “more recovery.” And, even more than that, “recovery” is not, in and of itself, an “activity.” More precisely, it’s really the lack of activity (at least on a macro scale; there’s plenty of “activity” on a micro scale when your body is recovering). The reason I say that learning this is perhaps unfortunate is that, in practice, the substance of this article may not in any way change how you choose to implement certain changes to how you prepare. As in the two games mentioned above, in practice, the odds are the same. And, for many folks, the idea of “more recovery” ultimately effects the exact same changes that one would implement even if you correctly understood what was going on.
[If you want to keep reading, pop on over to Slowtwitch.com for the rest of the article. Or feel free to stop now.]

One thought on “Less is Less: the Myth of More Recovery

  1. One word needs to be added to this description of game one (it's entirely possible that I was the only one confused…)-

    In game one, I can redeem a “token” for a donut (or some other desirable object, like a piece of bacon) and, based off of a coin-toss, either get a second donut (or piece of bacon) or nothing -HAPPENS-;

    Excellent writing Mr. R, thanks again for sharing with us! I would love to see a reference for these studies?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s