If you follow me on twitter, you’re pretty much bored of me talking about training and recovery, and training and recovery, training and…oh wait you’re bored already? But I have actually had several people of all different levels ask me about some of my recovery methods. While I don’t always do all of these things every single time I workout, there are a few that I swear by for various reasons, even if that reason is purely mental. Hey, if training and racing is a mental game, why can’t recovery also be mental? So, here are a few things I do to recover after training or racing.*
1. Ice Baths
I have lauded the
sheer misery splendor of ice baths before. I can definitely say without a doubt that I notice a difference if I do not ice bath after a tough workout vs when I do. Ice baths are a sometimes thing. They are not for after every single workout. Only the really tough ones that took a few hours and leave you really sore after. They also should be done as soon after the workout as possible. You can’t just wait until the next day to take your ice bath.
2. Chocolate Milk
I’ve only recently started partaking in this one. Within 20-30 minutes after a workout, consume low fat chocolate milk. It has the perfect combination of proteins, carbohydrates, sugar, and fat for recovery. It has shown in studies that it beats out other carbohydrate or protein heavy “recovery” drinks for muscle repair. It replenishes gylocogen stores in muscles and helps rehydrate you. Blah blah, good for your body, blah blah…It also tastes really good.
3. Compression Tights
I’ve also jumped on the compression tights/socks bandwagon. Not only do these
bondage devices tights prevent fatigue from muscle vibration while you’re running, but they also help stimulate blood flow to the muscles afterwards. I do not always wear these after a tough workout. In fact, it’s usually when I need a quick recovery and have some time to put them on and put my feet up. They are also great to wear under clothes after a tough workout if you have to go straight to work or another function after. You don’t want to wear them too long, but I have noticed that they do help me fight some of that dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
4. The Stick/Foam Roller
These little devices can be great for working out any remaining muscle soreness. Sometimes you just don’t have time to wait for it to work itself out. Or it’s so bad it’s preventing you from continuing your workouts, or even worse you’ve built up such severe muscle tightness that you risk injury in your next workout. I admit I am not as good about using these devices as I should. I will also be honest with you, they can hurt like hell! But if you consistently use them, it makes that initial pain go away.
This is an obvious one. You need to know the proper stretches for your body and for your workout to do though. I know these, but I’m terrible about doing them after a workout. I just ran for an hour and a half or biked for 2 hours, the last thing I want to do is sit on the ground and spend some more time working out. The price I pay for not stretching though is tighter muscles and joints with each workout.
6. Rest day
At least once a week, you should take a rest day. Your body just needs to fully rest and hit the reset button. If you’re heading in towards a race, consider 2 days with one very close to the race day. Even if you’re switching up all your different workouts and cross-training, your body still needs a day of rest. At some point it needs the time to work on repairing and rebuilding muscles. If nothing else, you need a mental rest from the rigor of training and racing.
So what are your favorite recovery methods?
* Note, I’m not a doctor, coach, sports medicine specialist, or even a phenomenal athlete. Take this with a grain of salt and research everything for yourself. If you’re not built like me or train like me, or have the same goals as me, then your recovery wouldn’t necessarily be like me either.