January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2022. See
Conor Meyler doesn’t do half measures. His bedtime routine includes taking a cold bath, opening the windows in his room, and taping his mouth closed. This year’s GAA Footballer of the Year nominee has learned success is not just the result of training hard, it’s also about recovering hard.
The day before Tyrone’s All-Ireland final victory over Mayo, Meyler’s Whoop app gave him a recovery reading of 98 per cent – the average reading for users is 58. The 27-year-old has just enjoyed the best season of his career and credits much of that to his extensive recovery routine, culminating in near perfect preparation for the biggest day of all. “I have no problem training but I have to work on recovery, my sleep and being accountable with it,” he told The Irish Times.
“I think people know these things but it’s about making it a habit and implementing it at least 90 per cent of the time. I have my meditation. Cold baths, stretching, nasal breathing. You know if you do it most of the time you’re in a good place.”
Tyrone’s Conor Meyler.
One of the aims of nasal breathing is to slow down your heart rate and increase oxygen intake. Mouth taping, Meyler explains, can maintain this during sleep. “Before bed I do a bit of reading and stretching. I’d have a cold bath or shower and have the windows open to drop the temperature in the room to help me relax a bit easier. I’d have no screens. I would meditate to help me switch off every night and I tape my mouth, for nasal breathing. To try and regulate your heart rate in pressure situations.”
It’s a game of inches for the Omagh St Enda’s club man, and he’s not willing to leave any stone unturned. “There were days during the championship season when my resting heart rate was 35bpm, my average was 37. As a teacher during the summer I could afford eight hours of sleep at least, and during the day I was a lot more relaxed.
“The week leading up to the AIl-Ireland final, my recovery was in the yellow on my Whoop, it was just okay and I remember thinking it was because of nervous energy and stress and excitement as it wasn’t because of any extra training we were doing. But on the Friday night it was 98 per cent. So I’d a deadly sleep. My resting heart rate was 36.”
He knew he was ready, but more so because he trusted his routine, as he hadn’t actually checked the data on his app on All-Ireland final morning. “I hadn’t looked at it until afterwards because I know of other lads who’ve looked at recovery scores and thought ‘oh I’m not recovered, I’…….