One of the biggest mistakes that an athlete/fitness enthusiast can make is not recovering after exercise/training. In my opinion, you can't go wrong when recovering after exercise because it is an opportunity to reward your body for the prior session of muscle catabolism and to to compensate for glycogen depletion and to return exercise-induced hormonal changes back to normal.
The last issue of Triathlete Magazine got me thinking about my own recovery routine. In the June 2011 issue of Triathlete there were a few pages dedicated to recovery as well as several other tips, tricks and tools to keep you healthy and race-day ready.
I find that many athletes get the "summer-training bug" and believe more is more. For me and my athletes, less is more. I believe in the process of training and developing a body that can handle the demands of training. For with periodized training, the body is more efficient at using fuels. Also, because every athlete is psychological and biochemical unique, it's important to take into consideration current fitness levels (through heart rate and power tests) as well as daily life (ex.work, diet, psychology, sleep and stress). It is easy to say that you want to train x-hours a week/weekend and perhaps some days you are better fueled and motivated than others, but in the long run it is all about consistency. While I do believe in active recovery, rest (for both the body and mind) is a necessary part in training. When I hear that athletes haven't taken a day off in x-weeks, that is a concern for possible injury or burnout. Typically, athletes will begin to add in unplanned rest days more and more often, because the body is tired and extremely fatigued. While it is great to listen to your body, a well-designed program will provide opportunities for proper recovery in order to gain strength, power and speed. For it isn't about the workout itself but how you recover from the workout.
Before you start changing around your training schedule, I provided my typical recovery routine which has worked very well for me. I also provide similar tips for my athletes, who have all learned the importance of the recovery period.
After 12 weeks of diligent strength training and stretching (and an x-ray and orthopedic apt that showed that my pelvis/hips are as healthy as can be) and 3 patient weeks of my own walk/run program to transition back into running (after not running for 10 long weeks), I am becoming one with my body again and becoming very aware of its needs during exercise. I am starting from a slow, clean slate and very happy to have a new, strong body. While I may be a bit slow right now, this is a great time for me to listen to my body (but during and after exercise) and design the best nutrition and training plan to support my performance goals. With Kona in around 20 weeks, I have plenty of time to not feel rushed and just enjoy my body in motion.
With no special gadgets yesterday, I did a 50 mile bike followed by a 50 minute run. There was no stopping during my run and I just ran by feel (which felt great, although, hot at 11am!). Well hydrated with my sport drink, I just kept on trucking along, step after step and paid attention to my form and breathing.
I hope you enjoy my typical recovery routine. Let me know if you have any questions :)
1) Come home, wake Campy up from his nap, and take him for a 10 min. walk (while sipping on very cold water)
2) Make a recovery smoothie and stick in freezer after blended.
(1 scoop protein powder, 2 large strawberries, 1 stalk celery, 4 chunks pineapple, small handful blueberries, small slice of ginger root, dash of cinnamon, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 spoonful low fat plain yogurt, 4-6 ice cubes, water as needed.)
3) Quick shower.
4) Do 15-20 min of hip stretches while sipping on recovery smoothie.
http://www.floota.com/PsoasStretch1.html (stretch #1 and #2 - there are also other stretches that you may find helpful)
5) Put on 110% Play Harder compression ice shorts (Karel is modeling them after his speed week race in Rosewell. What's great is that the ice packs stay cold for around 4 hours in an insulated bag so that you can use them immediately after racing/training while on the road!)
6) Make my "real" breakfast while wearing compression ice shorts.