How seriously are you taking recovery? Are you doing enough to recover from training and racing? A lot of athletes underestimate the need for and power of recovery.
Step one: Cool down
The first important thing to do is cooling down.
After races: No matter how good or bad the race went, make sure you spin out your legs for 15 to 20 minutes.
In training: Ride at an easy pace and spin your legs during the last 10-15 minutes of your training sessions. This is the start of your recovery, and it has an influence on how you will feel the next day.
Step two: refuel
After you finished your training or race, eat and/or or drink something easily digestible. Getting the necessary nutrients into your body within the first 30 minutes of finishing your training or race is essential to recovery.
A recovery drink or a snack like a sandwich for example, are fast and easy options. Best thing is to prepare some recovery food before you head out for training or racing.
Make sure your recovery drink or food contains simple carbohydrates and protein.
After that, you should eat a normal meal within two hours after your race or training ride. Balance the calories you expended during the day of racing/ training with the calories consumed the rest of the day. Your nutrition will help you recover from the day and feel better.
Sleep and rest
After a training ride, it really isn’t a good idea to rush right away into the next thing on your to-do-list. If you’re strapped for time, it’s better to shorten your training time so you have a little less stress and more time to recover.
Of course, many of you lead busy lives and cycling is mostly a hobby. It can be hard to find enough time for recovery but recovery is just as important as the training rides themselves. Talk to your coach about your work and life balance.
What about an active recovery ride?
Spinning your legs on a rest day is a good idea. Ride at low- intensity in a light gear on flat terrain or on your trainer/rollers. Make sure you just put minimal pressure on your pedals.
Active recovery boosts blood circulation, which removes lactic acid from your muscles- helping facilitate recovery faster. However, this only counts as long as you keep your ride very easy. If you are going too hard on an active recovery day, then it doesn’t do anything for your recovery. As soon as you push harder and raise your heart rate, you don’t ride in the recovery zone anymore and the adaptions you would get from recovery aren’t taking place.
Don’t be afraid of taking a day completely off. If your coach is giving you a day off, it’s for a reason — so enjoy that extra rest! Go hard on the hard days, take it very easy on the easy days.
Other things to help with your recovery are:
- foam rolling
- ice bath or hot/cold bath intervals
- wearing compression socks or tights
- listen to your body- means don’t overdo it with training/racing/working
ALP Cycles Coaching is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.
Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Road racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.