Recovery might be the last thing you want to hear while making your training plan. Taking a day off, or decreasing your mileage can feel like you are not making any progress, but recovery days are necessary in order for your muscles to be able to perform their best. Here is our guide to help you master the recovery days in your busy training schedule.
Protein! Carbs! Protein!
Protein rebuilds your muscles while they recover. Adding protein into your recovery will help alleviate the soreness of your muscles. That’s why almost any article you read geared towards recovery will remind you that protein is your best friend for recovery. Try eating protein after your next workout. Carbohydrates help replenish the energy that your body spent during exercise. Ignoring carbs means your ignoring the energy your body needs for the rest of the day.
Set Alarms to Snooze
Sleeping well every night is key to the recovery of your muscles. Sleep is the time your body works to repair your muscles, which means if you don’t get enough sleep your body doesn’t have enough time for essential repairs. Prioritize your sleep during your rest days to help your body replenish muscles.
A post-workout stretch benefits your body in two ways; it helps prevent muscle soreness and increases your flexibility. Aim to stretch for 30 minutes after your workout. This will prevent stiffness in your muscles and get blood pumping through them, which speeds up your recovery process.
Massages and Foam Rollers
Arguably the best part of any recovery is when you treat your muscles to a massage. The easiest way to comb out your muscles from any knots is to grab your trusted foam roller and use it on the areas that leave you the most sore. This helps relieve muscle soreness by reducing the tension from knots that form when you workout. It also promotes blood flow to your muscles, which gets oxygen flow back into them making you less sore in the days to come. On occasion, treat yourself and your muscles to a professional massage. They will be able to target the problem areas your foam roller might not be able to completely resolve.
Wearing compression socks or sleeves during training can help you start relieving muscle soreness. Compression gear helps promote blood flow, which means more oxygen to your muscles. If you are on a recovery day you do not want to wear sleeves, but you can wear compression socks on your recovery day. Some people like to keep their compression socks on after they train and sleep with them on into their recovery day. If you find that your legs are unreasonably sore after your workout, try compression garments and see the difference.
Focus on Form
Recovery days don’t mean you halt all motion, but modify workouts to be easier while your muscles repair themselves. This is the perfect time to focus on your form and technique in every workout you do during recovery. Can’t quite get a hang of bilateral breathing in the pool? Train this technique during recovery time when setting your PR for swim laps is not your priority. Maybe cycling isn’t your strong section of the race. Try practicing positioning your body to be the most aerodynamic on the bike. Training your technique during your easier recovery workouts will pay off when you are full speed ahead and cannot dedicate as much focus on your technique.
Be careful to not overdue training in your recovery days. It’s best to listen to your body. If it needs a day off, take a day off of all workouts and relax. If you over train your efforts will not be rewarded, because your muscles will have no time to regain the nutrients they need in order to perform at their best.
Recovery days are essential to your body. Whether you take a rest day or take the workout easy, these days are necessary to help you achieve your race day goals. It’s not just the training, or the racing, but also the recovery that helps you succeed.