Kaisa Sali is one of Finland’s best endurance athletes and at the top level of her sport globally. Sali has, for instance, won the European Championships, as well as silver and bronze in the World Championships. Sali attributes her success to a joyful and passionate attitude towards life and sports, as well as to finding a balance between exertion and recovery. Read Kaisa’s tips on how find balance between hard work, training and relaxation.
Everyday life of a top-athlete consists of giving your all and taking your body to its limits physically as well as mentally. The only way to become better is by going outside of one’s comfort zone. Trainings and competitions are finished without saving any sweat and with a determination that will get you through the hardest of rocks, if needed.
When everyday life is filled with passion, is not always easy to remember that relaxation is just as important as working. After all, development takes place at rest. The one standing on the highest podium is rarely the one working the hardest. The winner is usually the one, who remembers not only to train the body hard but also to take good care of it. Happy and healthy athlete will succeed.
Finding the balance between rest and training is very often like walking on a rope. At the moment, I’m getting ready for the main competition of the season; Ironman at Hawaii. Six hours training days at Boulder where the air oxygen level is low and the temperature is over 30 degrees really test my Finnish” sisu”-attitude. I have to pay special attention to both physical and mental recovery. Following ten corner stones keep me going on towards my athletic dreams day after day.
#1 Beloved people
The people closest to me help me to get a break from the triathlon world. After a hard day of training there is nothing more delightful than to cuddle up to my loved one and watch a good movie or to go out and have a dinner with your friends.
Like my training program, also my diet has been tuned to perfection. The most important corner stones are the regularity and quality of meals. Vegetables are the most vital as they are the source of important nutrients. In addition, they boost my recovery by balancing the acid load caused by hard training. I consume vegetables, fruit and berries up to over a kilo each day. My favorites are blueberry, kale and beetroot, among other things.
#3 Chocolate and wine
I do consider very carefully what and when I eat. However, I believe that the balance is everything also in diet. Therefore, I also allow myself to have treats every now and then. A small glass of wine and couple of bites of chocolate relax nicely.
#4 Enough sleep
I sleep on average 8 hours per night and a short nap every day. To make sure that sleeping is as recovering as possible, I don’t exercise or otherwise work late in the evening. I also try to relax my sore muscles. For example, here in the heat a cold shower in the evening nicely calms down the body.
#5 Waking up in the morning
I run every morning for about 10 minutes. In between jogging, I do some stretching and muscle activation moves. I carefully listen to every signal from my muscles and try to find possible alarming signs. I love running and couldn’t think a better way to wake up to a new day.
#6 Gym workout
Muscle and mobility training are in my training program every day together with actual triathlon training. This kind of exercising keeps my body together and helps me to get everything out of it while swimming, biking and running.
I go for a massage once a week. In addition to this I use foam roller and massaging recovery boots during evenings.
#8 Hot-cold treatment
Nothing puts body’s fluids into motion better than hot-cold therapy. When muscles are sore, I speed up the recovery by alternately using cold and hot, either in an ice pool and in sauna or in a shower. I also use hot-cold therapy to reduce the swelling after i.e. standing for a long time in or travelling. I use cold treatment regularly, because it is proven to reduce inflammations in muscles and tendons.
#9 Study and office work
Mental challenges are the best counterbalance to physical training. Studying, writing or organizing things for competitions challenge my brain and help me to stay still, something which is also important for the recovery. On the other hand, while still at school, I noticed that nothing relieved the mental stress better than good old physical workout.
#10 Sharing the good
The everyday life of a top athlete is extreme selfish and therefore nothing feels better than being able to share something good around you. I’m very pleased if I notice that I have been able to inspire someone with exercise or healthy food. I’m also very honored to be able to represent Sport for Good -movement and participate to charity work that way. Giving makes me happy and happiness helps me feel good.
This is how I find a balance between training and relaxation. When in balance, I feel better and what’s best, I get more out of myself and of life itself.