Recovery is arguably as important as your quality rides. In weight training the recovery period is adjusted to reflect the specific goals of the athlete and is monitored in the same way sets and repetitions are. In endurance sports, employing recovery strategies help to reduce soreness, aid in healing damaged muscles, and ultimately improve the quality of future workouts. Without excessive soreness caused by high intensity training and poor recovery, the next day’s workout could feel easier at a higher intensity and will ultimately assist in creating a stronger athlete. Here are three recovery strategies to follow as closely as your training program.
After any workout, but especially quality work, cooling down by riding flat roads or decreasing cycling resistance is a good way to clear any remaining lactic acid from the muscles. Just as warming up our muscles prior to engaging in quality work will lower our risk of injury, cooling down will allow our bodies to dissipate excess heat, lower our heart rate gradually, and lower injury risk. Additional cool down ideas could include a 5-10 minute walk, stretching or yoga.
Hydration & Post Workout Replenishment
Hopefully you are hydrating before you are experiencing feelings of thirst during your training rides. Since our muscles are composed of approximately 70% water, it is important to maintain adequate hydration for proper muscle function and growth. Another component of recovery is hydration. Ensuring adequate hydration with electrolytes, carbohydrate during training will reduce cramping and ensure proper muscle function. Electrolyte beverages have been formulated to specifically replace those lost through sweat during exercise. Some beverages also include protein for especially long endurance efforts.
Drinking something with electrolytes, carbohydrate and protein is essential after your quality work. Chocolate milk is a great option. Coconut water with a protein-rich snack is also a good option. Adding in protein post workout will also help to rebuild stronger muscles.
The majority of our body’s regeneration occurs while we sleep. Our muscles use this time to heal and grow. Recommendation for sleep is 7-8 hours per night. This time is even more important during periods of heavy training as our muscles are taxed more during our awake time. Sleep disorders are becoming more and more common as individuals fill evening time with television, computers or smart phone usage. Stress is another common reason that individuals suffer from poor sleep quality.
It is best to create a pre-bed routine that involves minimal screen time, relaxing and de-stressing activities, as well as choosing to go to bed at the same time every night.
Though not an exhaustive list, these three recovery strategies will help you in achieving your goals by making your training time as effective and possible.