Recovery is a major part of training and is necessary to rebuild muscles and clear the mind. As you start entering your Build and Race Phase of your training recovery become even more important so you can do it all again the following day. Athletes in their 40’s or older find recovery time takes longer than those in their 20’s and 30’s and focusing on recovery becomes just as important as getting those intervals in. These methods apply to all levels, beginners to elite. I’m going to describe some things you can do to improve your recovery on a daily basis.
While you are sleeping your body releases hormones to repair damage caused during your hard workout. Studies show sleeping 8+ hours a night promotes better recovery and optimum performance. I recommend going to bed early enough so you don’t need to set an alarm. Your body will wake you when it’s ready to get up, if you are forced awake, your body isn’t done with getting the rest it needs.
Bonus: Take a 15-30 min nap on top of the 8+ hours as often as you can. For most of us we don’t have that extra time, but if you can get in an extra hour mid day you’ll notice a big difference the following day.
Eating ‘clean’ healthy foods is probably one of the easiest things you can do to improve recovery. Focus on eating whole foods such as lean meat (wild and/or grass feed), nuts, fruit, vegetables. Remove processed foods such as white breads, pastas, chips, cookies, cake, crackers etc. Other foods that can be included are healthy fats such as cage free eggs w/ yolk, coconut oil, avocados, whole organic milk (almond/soy/coconut), olive oil, greek yogurts and some nuts.
Adding Omega 3 to your diet with chia seed, hemp seeds, salmon, fish oil etc promotes recovery by reducing inflammation.
Within 30 min of your workouts have a recovery meal. I like a recovery smoothie or if I’m not at home when I finish the ride I use Infinit Repair. Focus on getting ~25g protein, some fast acting carbs (1 banana or other fruit) and yogurt, 300-400 calories in all. Have a meal within 2 hours of your recovery snack.
There is so much more to using food to assist in recovery. Our coaching programs and our training plans include nutrition guides and meal plans that provide details and meal examples to provide you with excellent recovery fuel.
Bonus Tip: Eating processed carbs like breads, cookies, pastas, refined sugar causes inflammation which delays/inhibits recovery. Many endurance athletes are eating gluten free, not because of health issues or because it’s a fade, but it’s because products that contain gluten generally cause inflammation, delaying recovery. Gluten free foods are generally whole foods that provide excellent recovery and fueling nutrition.
There are a few supplements to assist with recovery and should be taken daily during training periods. These supplements help reduce inflammation and keep you healthy.
- Fish oil – 1-2 TBSP / 15-30 ml daily or 1200 mg fish oil gels
- CBD – amount varies depending on training load. start with .25-.50 ml and adjust from there. CBD reduces inflation and pain, and promotes sleep. There are many brands of CBD. I suggest a full spectrum brand for best results. I use Floyds of Leadville CBD Oil Tincture. I also suggest taking at night to avoid drowsiness during the day. In my experience Tincture seems to be more effective than softgels or rubs.
- Vitamin D – 2000 IU daily keeps immune system strong
- Vitamin C – 1000 mg daily keeps immune system strong and fights bad radicals in your system produced by your hard sessions. should be taken after workouts or 5-6 hrs before. Vitamin C has shown to reduce lactic production which will hinder your workouts.
Pneumatic compression is one of the latest technologies making it into the sports market. You may have heard of these devices as Normatek, Podium Legs and Elevated Legs. Using these devices every day which will greatly improve recovery time after training and racing. The device will clear the waste i.e lactic acid from your legs through massage and compression. I recommend Elevated Legs as they have the highest compression, best features and support.
Stretching and Yoga
Stretching the main muscle groups increases blood flow and circulation to reduce muscle soreness and also helps you attain better posture and alignment.
I really like this yoga routine by Abi Carver. It provides great stretching of the hips, quads and back. Do this a couple of days a week. For a daily post workout routine checkout this 15 min session by Abi Carver
Massage may be the most powerful medicine cyclists can get without a prescription. It relieves sore muscles, speeds recovery, prevents injury, and helps you feel better fast. Few activities demand more from your body than cycling, and few athletes benefit more from massage than cyclists.
Bonus Tip: Some tools to use for self massage include a high density foam roller or The Stick. Use them a couple of times a week or daily.
Compression garments further helps blood circulation speeding up recovery and prevent injury. Use either a Calf Sleeve or full leg sleeve or tight . Some athletes use the Calf Sleeve or Sock to help circulation while training or racing. Put on the garment right after a hard workout or race.
Bonus: Checkout RecoFit Full Leg Compression Sleeve or Calf Sleeve. I started using RecoFit this year after using another brand the last couple of years. I found the RecoFit product to work better as they stay in place and has focused placement of compression material where it’s really needed. They also look sharp!
Studies show active recovery appears to significantly reduce accumulated blood lactate and speed muscle recovery. Doing a cool down (easy light spin) after a race or hard workout will help relax the muscles and clear blood lactate.
One or two days a week (depending on your fitness level and training phase) you need an active recovery day. 30-60 min on the bike easy Zone 1/Power level 1 or 2, a brisk walk, hike helps clear lingering blood lactate.
For optimum performance practice these tips daily. If you have questions on any of these methods, leave a comment or feel free to contact me directly. Thanks for reading.