Sleeping and eating are the two best recovery techniques for athletes. From beginners to pros, sleeping longer and eating better will improve your cycling performance in training and racing. After sleeping and proper nutrition, massage, compression garments, stretching, active recovery and hydrotherapy are the best (1). Before you train harder use these recovery techniques to improve the quality (and power output) of your training and racing.
Proper nutrition is paramount when you are training and racing hard day to day and week to week. From pre, during, to post workout intake, all have repercussions on how the body handles training/racing. Athletes should make sure their bodies are getting the appropriate nutrients in every meal, at all times of the day. Athletes should drink 1 ounce of fluid (water, electrolyte drink, coconut water) per pound of body weight
After a race or workout you have 30 – 45 minutes where your “glycogen window” is open and you should consume a recovery snack that’s 3:1 – 5:1 CHO to Protein (2)
Examples are Skratch Labs Endurance Recovery Mix or a good old fashioned turkey sandwich. I also like yogurt and granola or chicken fried rice when I come home from a training ride and ice cold Skratch Recovery Mix when I’m away from the kitchen at a race.
After proper nutrition, sleep is super important. Studies have shown, the more you get, the better you’ll recover (3) and consequently, perform. Life stress of a job, family, etc often leads to a lack of sleep. Many athletes are required to workout in the early morning or late evening due to these other life stresses, which makes rest and recovery that much more important. All athletes should shoot for eight hours of sleep or more a night. Unwinding by putting away technology in the hour or two prior to bed will also help get to sleep faster. On the weekends, when you aren’t working, try to get in a mid-afternoon recovery nap after your long ride for 20-60 minutes.
I like to have athletes track their sleep with a FitBit, Garmin Vivosmart HR, Whoop or similar device to become more aware of the amount and quality of sleep.
If you have time, an active recovery ride in zone 1 for 30-45 minutes will bring oxygenated blood to muscles and help them recover more . “Coffee Shop Rides” are only beneficial if they do not take the place of sleep or the rest of your life’s responsibilities. After your short active recovery ride use a foam roller to ‘roll out’ your glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings. An epsom salt or ice bath is ‘next level’ and will do wonders. I also like the Normatec or the more affordable Rapid Reboot compression boots for 30-60 minutes.
Here is a good post race or ride recovery routine, in this order:
Recovery Snack > Foam Roller or Normatecs > Ice or Epsom Salt Bath > 20-60 minute Nap > Nutritious Meal > 8-11 hours of sleep.
Here in Boulder, CO in the summer, I like to end rides with a 10 minute dip into the Boulder Creek, which rushes by at a therapeutic 65 degrees. Once home, I grab my recovery snack and get horizontal on the couch either in Normatecs or compression tights like RecoFit. This usually leads to a short 20 – 30 minute nap (that’s all I can nap for). After that I just try to chill on the couch and plan for a nice nutritious dinner followed by 8-10 hours of sleep.
One of the biggest mistakes I see athletes make is they do all that but then get up an go Go GO whether its yard work or errands or standing up or walking around. I can’t emphasize enough the recovery value of chilling out on the couch.
Additionally if you have the means, sports massage is an incredibly beneficial recovery technique. Once a week, a month of whatever you can afford, massage is money well spent. Lastly, Yoga is a recovery technique that I can’t advocate enough. Its stretching, core, relaxation, meditation all wrapped up in one. Try it on your next recovery day!
Training hard to get faster generally is the easy part for athletes, but implementing these recovery techniques are where next level performances come from. With quick attention to detail using proper nutrition, sleep, and active recovery techniques, athletes can get that extra 1-2% benefit out of their bodies to keep productive training days, weeks, and years. Proper recovery and staying injury free is a gold standard requirement of succeeding goals!
1 “Recovery Techniques for Athletes, Dr. Shona Halson, Ph.D, Australian Institute of Sport, Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal
2 Dr. Allen Lim, Ph.D, “Endurance Recovery Mix“, Skratch Labs Blog, 2016
3 “Sleep, Recovery, and Performance: The New Frontier in High-Performance Athletics”, Dr. Charles Samuels, MD, CCFP, DABSM, Centre for Sleep and Human Performance
Copyright 2017 , FasCat Coaching
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