By Cycle U coach Heather Nielson
Recovery means a lot of things and probably includes more than you think.
First of all, recovery is going on all the time. Everything you do affects your ability to recover and how quickly you recover.
Below are a few ideas but this is certainly not an all inclusive list. Additionally, you should experiment (NOT DURING A RACE) to see what works for you. Everyone is a little different but the same generalities usually remain the same.
Before: Sleep is, in my opinion, probably the most under estimated and yet one of the most powerful forms of recovery. One of the most annoying things I read or hear are ‘you can sleep when you’re dead!’ Keep living like that you probably will, sooner than you would otherwise; and more than that, your quality of life will decrease significantly.
During: Fueling & hydrating on the bike helps to replace precious muscle glycogen, spare muscle mass as well as electrolytes. The better you fuel optimally during training, the stronger you are during your ride, which means you’ll get the most fitness benefit from your time on the bike and the less reserves you dip in to that could affect tomorrow’s training ride.
After: The time period following a hard &/or long (2 or more hours) work-out for replacing valuable glycogen and optimizing repair to your muscles and the rest of your body is pretty narrow and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Get that recovery drink in ASAP with some fluids. The longer/harder the work-out, the more the recovery window lasts. Eat more carbohydrate closer to your recovery window and more protein further away.
-Hot shower/bath/hot tub: for loosening muscles up
-Active recovery: Easy spin for 15-30 min several hours after a hard work-out
-Dry Sauna for 10 minutes
-Relax and stretch – off your feet. Even put your legs up against the wall if you feel like it!
-Go for a short walk
-Trigger point/foam roll
-Compression tights & socks