So you’ve trained for months for your most important race. You’ve taken care of yourself by eating healthy, mentally preparing for the race, and supplementing your training with strength, core and corrective exercises. But does taking care of your body end when you cross the finish line or at the end of a workout? Absolutely not!
Recovery is something that you should be working on during the weeks and months leading up to your race as well as after your race. Think of recovery as part of your training. Recover techniques will not only help you feel better, but will also prepare your body for the next workout so you can get the most benefit from those workouts.
Incorporating recovery techniques into your training leads to both long term and short term success. It’s where improvements are made as a result of all the training you’ve done. Something is better than nothing, so even if you’re limited with time, any recovery technique you incorporate into your plan will be helpful.
What types of recovery can you use? Any or all of these:
ACTIVE RECOVERY, ADAPTATION WEEKS & OFF-SEASONS
Having one day off completely each week will help you recover from the week’s workouts. An easy or active recovery day is also beneficial.
Every third or fourth week should be an adaptation week where volume is lowered so that you can adapt to the previous weeks of training.
Every year, take a few weeks off completely from your main sport and do some unstructured exercise. This is a great time to add variety to your training, like trail running or mountain biking. It’s the time to mentally take a break from your main sport and do the things you didn’t have time for before.
After a hard effort, don’t just stop and sit down. Keep moving. Walk or easily jog to bring your body back to normal levels.
Don’t under estimate the importance of sleep to your recovery and overall well being. Lack of sleep affects both recovery and the ability to perform well at your sport. Insufficient sleep has also been associated with obesity, impaired memory, and serious health problems.
There’s a small recovery window of 30 minutes after your workout or race when you should rehydrate and replenish lost glycogen. Include both carbs and protein in your recovery nutrition.
Getting a massage is not only relaxing, but also loosens muscles and gets rid of knots and tight areas. If you can’t get a massage, or in between massages, you can use a foam roll or other similar device for self massage.
One of my favorite devices is a golf ball. Using a golf ball on you arches is great for loosening up those tight areas and is especially helpful for anyone with Plantar Fasciitis. If not treated, Plantar Fasciitis can last for months to years, causing pain while running. Nip it in the bud and massage the tightness out regularly.
Compression has been used in the health care field in order to help improve circulation, which aids in healing. Circulation is the reason it should be used while travelling. If you plan on driving or flying for longer distances, wearing compression assures better leg circulation which prevents deep vein thrombosis, or clots. If you’re not wearing compression, you can also take some short walk breaks or move and tighten the muscles of your legs periodically.
While compression socks and tights do help with circulation and recovery, it has not been proven to help while actually racing and training (there are mixed reviews in the research). Some athletes like how it feels and the feeling of less vibration in the legs. Either way, it won’t hurt to try it out. If you feel a difference, then by all means use it!
Compression boots are another excellent addition to add to your recovery arsenal. Like compression socks, they help with circulation but it also feels like you’re getting a massage! The major difference between compression socks and compression boots are that the socks are something you can wear all day, during training, and racing and will help prevent blood from pooling in your legs. Compression boots on the other hand are used for short periods of time (obviously walking around with them is not recommended 🙂 and are a stronger compression compared to socks. Because of this, they’re great at flushing out the legs and reviving them.
Check out our sponsor Rapid Reboot for some great compression boots.
COLD & HEAT
Cold and heat are great tools for recovery. Using cold helps reduce inflammation, while heat helps increase circulation and loosen muscles.
A few key points to keep in mind:
- Use cold on injuries in the first 48 hours, not heat.
- Heat can be used on an injury after the first 48 hours.
- Colder is not better. Ice baths should not be below 45° F
- Heat can be used before exercise, but not ice.
Relaxation, stretching, and core work all wrapped into one class. What could be better?
Looking for something to aid your recovery?
We like using Triggerpoint for self-massage and getting out all those knots.
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