We've entered in to a pretty tough phase of training with shorter rest, higher heart rates, and more power. What this means is we're expecting a lot of our muscles, lungs, and mental ability; we're pushing hard and breaking down our systems so that they can build strength and endurance. The goal is to gain speed, but if we continue to push hard on the bike and in life then we continue to overload our systems; and unless we take the time to provide smart recovery after training sessions and schedule blocks of time for rest and recovery, then our bodies will not be given the chance to re-build and all the training can lead to burn out and injuries and illness.
The Cycling Centre program builds in recovery weeks and watches athletes closely to determine when they may need more rest, or can push even harder. There are other things that you should be aware of to maximize recovery and come in to each training session feeling great and ready to work hard mentally and physically.
1. Rest: Time off is a good thing. Take 1-2 days a week off completely or with 30-60 min of really easy activity to get the blood moving and to flush out toxins. Active recovery can help repair and refuel the muscles faster.
2. Cool Down: It is important to keep the legs moving while the heart rate comes down in order to help eliminate lactic acid and help reduce stiffness. Continue to ride really easily for at least 10 min, and if it has been a hard workout have a dry shirt ready to put on to stay warm.
3. Eat Properly: Your body needs a balanced diet with lots of nourishment in order to replenish and restore it's self. Lots of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, good fats and lots of fluids are needed to keep the immunity strong. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition and supplements then register for our clinic on Feb. 27 from 1-6 pm in Oakville, ON. Contact Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for more information.
4. Ice: One of the best things you can do for recovery is to ice your muscles. Ice massage, ice packs, ice baths can all help. One of the best ways to recover is contrast water therapy where you alternate between hot and cold. The most effective way is to alternate between hot and cold baths; however, a similar effect can be done in the shower alternating between hot and cold water by turning the faucet. Check out this website to find out more.
5. Sleep: The importance of sleep can not be stressed enough and often is the first thing to be neglected in adult athletes. Add the role of parent and full time employee to training and combine that with responsibilities that extended to family and friends and often sleep is left out of the equation. Everyone has different sleep needs, whether it's 5 hours, 8 hours or 10 a night, but we have a pretty good idea of the number of hours we need to feel good. Do your best to get in your "optimal" sleep number, but if that's not possible you may be able to pay back some of your debt. This website has more information on sleep including whether or not you can bank sleep.
6. Compression: The new fad in performance clothing seems to be compression, but is it a fad? Compression helps control blood circulation and resist fatigue. Garments come in different weights, meaning the amount of give they have, so some are better for wearing during exercise, post exercise, and for travel to help eliminate jet lag. Many people swear by it, so if you get achy after workouts it may be worth trying.
Remember to listen to what your body is telling you, sometimes it just needs a little push to get going and other times you need to change your daily plan to rest, recover, and prevent injury and illness.